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Religious leaders send letter to governor, lawmakers, seeking food assistance bill that ‘reflects our state’s generosity and compassion’


More than 200 leaders from Iowa’s interfaith community have sent Gov. Kim Reynolds and legislative leaders a letter opposing a bill that would create additional administrative hurdles for food assistance recipients if it becomes law.

The letter was dated today, a day before Senate File 494 is scheduled to be debated on the floor of the Iowa House of Representatives. The bill would require individuals and families to prove that their net worth in assets is less than $15,000, creating additional hurdles for them to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and would remove an estimated 2,800 Iowans from SNAP and other public assistance programs, leaders of the Des Moines Area Religious Council said in a report last week.

The bill also comes as the demand on food pantries is on the rise and the need for assistance grows, said leaders of the organization, which has a network of 15 partner food pantry sites, numerous mobile food pantry sites, and a home delivery program.

In the letter, containing 209 signatures, the interfaith leaders said they oppose the bill on “religious and humanitarian grounds.” 

“Feeding the poor is a universal value shared by all major faith traditions and all cultures,” they wrote.

In the letter, the leaders of the state’s interfaith community said SNAP is already too difficult to access and doesn’t provide enough support. According to the letter, the average benefit provides $1.78 per meal with the minimum SNAP benefit being $23 a month. They also say enrollment in SNAP in Iowa is at an all-time low.

The leaders also said private charities cannot fill the gap and address food insecurity issues alone.

“According to Bread for the World, federal nutrition programs like SNAP provide 19 times the amount of food than private charitable sources like food banks and food pantries,” they wrote. “Should SF 494 pass, already stressed feeding charities will be overwhelmed.”

In the letter, the interfaith leaders called for state lawmakers to put differences aside and adopt legislation that  “reflects our state’s generosity and compassion.”

“Despite many differences, the people of Iowa share a vision for a state government that responds to challenges with effective solutions,” they wrote. “We have a history of welcome and compassion for those in need. We seek a future where everyone has the nutritious food they need to live and thrive.”


Michael Crumb

Michael Crumb is a senior staff writer at Business Record. He covers economic development, transportation, energy & environment, culture, sales & marketing.

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