Some of the proposed restrictions mean that low-income, older, and disabled Iowans who rely on SNAP benefits would not be able to purchase items like fresh meat, white bread, or sliced cheese.
The bill dictates that people can only purchase 100% whole wheat bread, brown rice and 100% whole wheat pasta — no white grains allowed.
Also on the “do not buy list” are baked, refried or chili beans. Instead, recipients must purchase black, red, and pinto beans. Cooking oil, spices, and salt and pepper would have to be crossed off the shopping list, along with soup, and canned vegetables and fruit. Fresh meats are off the table, as Iowans would only be able to purchase canned products like canned tuna or salmon. Sliced, cubed, crumbled, and American cheese would also be eliminated from SNAP food purchases. . . . .
Iowans on SNAP would not be able to buy meat, flour, butter, cooking oil, frozen prepared food,” said Luke Elzinga, Chair of the Iowa Hunger Coalition. “It’s a huge list. Actually it’s quicker to list what Iowans would still be able to buy with their SNAP benefits.”
Elzinga cautioned that if passed, this bill would be devastating for SNAP recipients.
“I don’t think the 39 co-sponsors of this bill know just how restrictive this is, and that it would ban meat,” he said. “Under this bill, no ground beef, no chicken, no pork in the state of Iowa. I just can’t believe that they knew that was what it was when the bill was introduced.”
Iowa House Republicans introduced a bill that would place restrictions on the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, limiting who qualifies for food assistance and what foods they can buy.
The new bill, House File 3, dictates what the more than 250,000 Iowans who rely on SNAP can or cannot buy at grocery stores, Luke Elzinga, spokesperson for local food nonprofit DMARC told Axios Des Moines.
HF3 also targets several other public assistance programs, such as Medicaid, and reduces the income level Iowans need to qualify for the program.
Sami Scheetz, the freshman Democratic representative for Iowa’s 78th district, is a vocal opponent of House File 3, or as he calls it, a “truly terrible bill.”
“Iowans have been struggling for years now. First, the pandemic destroyed our economy, and still to this day we have record high inflation we haven’t seen in 40 years that’s been driving up the cost of basic things like food and gas,” Scheetz tells TIME. “To make it harder and more restrictive for people to get the basic things they need for them and their families to survive… it’s wrong.”
According to House Republicans, the proposal—currently being discussed in subcommittees—would help cut costs. “It’s these entitlement programs. They’re the ones that are growing within the budget and are putting pressure on us being able to fund other priorities,” House Speaker Pat Grassley told KCCI, a Des Moines news outlet.