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Iowa’s Proposed SNAP Restrictions Spark Controversy and Criticism: Critics call it an Attack on People’s Dignity

A new bill in Iowa proposes to restrict the options for purchase under Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to a limited array of options as defined by the WIC program. This is part of a larger effort to rewrite regulations for public benefits in Iowa, including work requirements and regular audits of Medicaid recipients’ personal property and income to determine eligibility, as per a report by Time on January 22, 2023.


The proposed bill, sponsored by nearly 40 House Republicans, aims to restrict certain foods that can be purchased using SNAP benefits. Under the proposed bill, white grains such as white bread, pasta, and rice, starches like beans and cereals, and certain cheeses would be prohibited. Fresh meats would also be ineligible for purchase under the program. Additionally, the approved food list for WIC benefits would be limited to canned goods like tuna or salmon.


Critics have called a proposal dehumanizing and said it takes away people’s dignity by not allowing them to choose what they want to eat. An example was given of a disabled person on SNAP not being able to buy chocolate-covered almonds as program.


Based on a report by Newsweek on January 20, 2023, the bill comes from a group of red-state governors led by Governor Kim Reynolds, requesting President Joe Biden to end the ongoing public health emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This emergency prohibits states from removing Medicaid recipients from the program, and Governor Reynolds claims it is negatively impacting states by artificially growing the population covered under Medicaid, regardless of their continued eligibility for the program.


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