Opinion | SNAP is an essential program

Iowa Republicans want to reduce necessary food products from SNAP.

Luke Krchak, Opinions Contributor

Iowa Republicans introduced a bill that would reduce Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

This bill is harmful to the people who need help the most by limiting access to basic nutrition.

In our current economic downturn, it makes sense to look for cuts in the budget. However, services like SNAP are essential to the health and well-being of people who use them.

The bill was introduced on Jan. 11 to merge and reform the SNAP benefits with the Women, Infants, and Children Program. This merger leaves fewer options for individuals relying on SNAP. These items include cooking supplies, sliced cheese, fresh meat, and canned tuna and salmon.

The bill has also proposed an asset limit of $2,750 on households. For households with an individual with a disability or an individual over the age of 60, the asset limit is set at $3,250.

Services like SNAP may seem like a place where too much money is allocated. It might seem like people on food stamp programs are abusing it to get luxury food. But roughly 20 percent of the U.S. lives at 130 percent or below the poverty line. Half of that percentage includes individuals in the SNAP program.

Cooking a home meal or having access to a fresh meal can be taken for granted. Many tend to overlook these things as if everyone has equal access to quality meals and nutrition.

The first food stamps program was established in 1939 by Henry Wallace, the former Secretary of Agriculture. These programs were originally made to aid the high percentage of unemployed individuals, which was a result of the Great Depression.

Today, we face another sizable economic downturn and incoming recession.

We need a well-funded SNAP program available to aid people during the current economic decline, and it needs to keep a variety of options and meals now more than ever.

Limiting options can make it difficult for people with allergies and other concerns to access adequate nutrition. In addition, the limit of protein-rich items — such as fresh meats and cheese — would make it harder for people to meet their nutritional needs.

Funding comes from the federal government, giving the program protections from states cutting off funds to the program’s budget. However, states are given the power to choose how to administer benefits, such as limiting benefits available and who is eligible.

In fiscal 2021, the federal government spent $111 billion on SNAP, an increase from past years to increase aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. This price is expected to fall over the coming decade, going back to its original average of 0.4 percent of the GDP.

Iowa has around 9 percent of its population participating in SNAP benefits, as of 2021. This is not just a problem affecting 0.0001 percent of people and is not a problem that should be overlooked.

If Iowa Republicans still want to find ways to cut the budget, I recommend they find it in non-essential places, as SNAP is an essential service for Iowa and the U.S.

Every Iowan should be able to meet their nutritional needs, so we need to ensure SNAP is able to provide that.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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