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

Reynolds announces grants for summer meal programs

Nearly three months after she rejected the Summer EBT program, Reynolds announced $900,000 in competitive grants for summer meal programs.
Emily Nyberg
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds talks with supporters after the 2023 Thanksgiving Family Forum hosted by The FAMiLY Leader, an organization dedicated to advancing the role of religious values in government, at the Marriott hotel in downtown Des Moines on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. Ramaswamy sat with his son, who ran onto the stage earlier in the event. The event began at 3:30 p.m. with a round table discussion, and was followed by meet-and-greet events with each of the candidates, which included Vivek Ramaswamy, Ron DeSantis, and Nikki Haley.

After rejecting federal funds for the Summer EBT program in February, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced $900,000 in competitive grants for summer meal programs for children. 

Administered by the Iowa Department of Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the funds are intended to provide Iowa children access to healthy food over the summer. 

The state-directed Summer Meal Program Expansion Grant will launch additional summer meal sites through the use of two existing federal programs — the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option — for Iowa children under 18 years old in underserved areas. 

The grants will support school districts and other qualified organizations. 

The announcement comes roughly three months after Reynolds declined summer EBT funds after an extension to accept the program. Nearly 245,000 Iowa children relied on an extra $40 a month per child in food assistance through the summer EBT program. 

Iowa is one of the 14 Republican-led states that opted not to apply for the Summer EBT program before the Feb. 14 deadline. The program would have required Iowa to invest an initial $2.2 million in administrative costs and a later additional investment of $1.1 million. 

Reynolds platforms the belief that Iowa and the nation as a whole should invest in already existing programs at the state level, and give state government the flexibility to tailor the programs to their needs. 

“Providing young Iowans with access to free, nutritious meals in their communities during the summer months has always been a priority,” said Reynolds in a news release on Wednesday. “With the Summer Meal Program Expansion Grant, we will expand these well-established programs across our state to ensure Iowa’s youth have meals that are healthy and use local community farms and vendors when possible.” 

Iowa Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott, D-West Des Moines, said Reynolds’ investment is meager next to the $29 million in federal food assistance from the Summer EBT program that Iowa would have received if Reynolds accepted. 

“While I appreciate the governor finally doing something for hungry children in our state, the competitive grant program announced today amounts to crumbs for Iowa kids,” Trone Garriott said in a news release on Wednesday. 

Trone Garriott said the grant program is insufficient to address the state’s needs and will force Iowa communities to compete for “a sliver of that much smaller pie.” 

RELATED: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds rejects summer food program as local resources strain

She also pointed to the difficulty of food site accessibility, noting that not every Iowa family is able to bring their children to and from a site every day. Trone Garriott said these programs assisted less than 20,000 children last year. 

“The governor could have expanded these programs and participated in the Summer EBT program,” Trone Garriott said in the release. “But instead, she put politics before the health and wellbeing of our kids.” 

According to Reynolds’ news release, summer meals can be served at a variety of community sites such as schools, churches, or parks, and prospective new meal sites must be located in an area where at least 50 percent or more of the children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

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About the Contributors
Roxy Ekberg
Roxy Ekberg, Politics Reporter
Roxy Ekberg is a first year at the University of Iowa. In the Honors Program, she is double majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in Spanish. Prior to her role as a politics reporter, she worked news reporter at the Daily Iowan and worked at her local newspaper The Wakefield Republican.
Emily Nyberg
Emily Nyberg, Visual Editor
Emily Nyberg is a second-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic arts. Prior to her role as a Visual Editor, Emily was a Photojournalist, and a News Reporter covering higher education.