The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | Iowa’s hungry kids deserve better

The state has ripped food off the table of hungry kids and replaced it with flimsy excuses and ignorance.
Isabella Tisdale
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds opens the Faith and Freedom Presidential Town Hall at the Iowa Events Center on Sept. 16, 2023. The event had ten republican candidates speak for a crowd of over 1,000. Reynolds spoke to the audience about her work on changing laws around abortion and gender-affirming care.

For Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, “taking candy from a baby” is not so much a figure of speech as it is a legislative goal.

Last month, Iowa state officials announced the state would not participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer EBT programs, which help ensure children get food assistance when they are not in school.

Given the low cost of this program and the fact that its purpose is simply to feed the hungry, Reynolds’ and the state’s decision is completely inexcusable and cruel. Whatever benefits we may see cannot compare to the benefits of feeding hungry kids.

Reynolds did offer a justification for her and the state’s decision, however.

She claimed the program was not sustainable, saying “Federal COVID-era cash benefit programs are not sustainable and don’t provide long-term solutions for the issues impacting children and families. An EBT card does nothing to promote nutrition at a time when childhood obesity has become an epidemic.”

If Reynolds has a plan to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity, which is a real and present issue, I’m all ears. Until then, it is hard to see this explanation as anything but gold-medal-worthy mental gymnastics by her public relations team.

As always, Reynolds may pretend that she is very concerned about spending taxpayer dollars wisely and claims that the cost of the program is not sustainable. Participation in the program would cost about $2.2 million in administrative costs.

Don’t be fooled by the word “million.” This number is not as nearly as daunting as Reynolds would like you to believe. This number divides up to just $40 per month per child. Anyone who has been grocery shopping recently can probably deduce that $40 per month for food is probably not even close to what it costs for anyone to eat for a month.

When it comes to using COVID-era funds to feed hungry children, Reynolds says we just have to face the fact that it is not financially sustainable. But when it comes to using COVID-era funds to send the Iowa National Guard to the U.S.’ southern border for no reason other than conservative brownie points, Reynolds can’t endorse the check fast enough. In case you haven’t noticed, and maybe Reynolds hasn’t, Iowa is not particularly close to the southern border.

Her blatant disregard for sustainability despite claiming it as a concern somehow gets even more ironic. The whole point of the program is that it continues to help feed hungry children even when they are not at school.

Cambridge Dictionary defines the word “sustain” as “to cause or allow something for a period of time.” When she claimed that she was concerned about sustainability, that apparently did not include the sustained food security of Iowa’s children. What she is doing is the exact opposite of sustaining.

Months ago, Reynolds announced the state would be making a sizable donation to four nonprofits to take on food insecurity. While this move was undeniably a step in the right direction, fighting food insecurity will not be solved with one-time donations. Food stamps need to be both consistently and directly distributed to maximize accessibility. Whatever care Reynolds displayed with this donation was severely diminished with her withdrawal from this program.

Food insecurity doesn’t exist in a vacuum and requires a realistic approach to interrupt the cycle before Iowans become food insecure,” Reynolds said in September.

We could keep the system where we must interrupt this cycle, which will come with the woes and burdens of bureaucracy. Or we could keep participating in this program and help end the cycle altogether.

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.


More to Discover
About the Contributors
Evan Weidl, Opinions Editor
Evan Weidl is a senior majoring in political science. He previously worked in the opinions section as a columnist.
Isabella Tisdale, Photojournalist
Isabella Tisdale is a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan and is a senior at West High school. In her free time, she stage manages for the theater program at West High. She plans to double major in political science and journalism.