Last week, Iowa’s Republican-led administration caused a stir by ditching a federal program that would have doubled food stamps for low-income families this summer, providing extra money every month.
Iowa has decided not to participate in the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children (EBT) program in 2024. This program offers low-income families $40 per month to assist in covering food expenses for their children when school is out. Health and Human Services and Education have said their respective departments will not participate in the plan.
During the summer, families with school-aged children who typically get free or reduced-price meals may increase their nutrition benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) for Children program. Eligible families will begin receiving a prepaid debit card in the summer of 2024 with $40 for each kid for three months. Still, Iowa’s HHS has informed the Biden administration that the Hawkeye State will not be participating in Summer EBT because, according to them, the program doesn’t put enough restrictions on the kind of food that families may buy.
The food banks in Iowa are under unprecedented demand and have expressed concern that the government’s decision not to participate in Summer EBT while promising to strengthen state-level programs would worsen the situation. Online outcry followed Governor Kim Reynolds’ announcement just days before Christmas that Iowa would not join the federal summer feeding program for low-income kids. According to a Morning Consult poll conducted in July, Reynolds had 54% approval and 42% disapproval.
Legislators from both parties in Nebraska have asked the state to think again, arguing that Summer EBT would help economically struggling kids while still meeting their needs. Summer EBT in 2024 will be attended by at least 18 states and territories and two tribal countries. These states and territories are California, Arizona, Kansas, West Virginia, Minnesota, Guam, and American Samoa. The Department of Agriculture must receive notification from states, territories, and eligible tribal countries by January 1st, 2018, whether they want to participate in the program this summer.