Iowa GOP proposed cuts to SNAP-eligible foods; no federal bill

Iowa Republicans have introduced a bill that makes staples like fresh meat ineligible for SNAP benefits. But the proposal would not affect other states.

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) helps millions of Americans pay for groceries.

Formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, SNAP was used by more than 41 million people last year – about 12% of the population – and is a central component of the nation’s hunger relief efforts.

SNAP funds can be used to purchase a variety of groceries, although some products such as alcohol and hot foods are not eligible. Few popular tweets recently accused Republicans of trying to limit SNAP benefits by proposing to cut eligible foods.

QUESTION

Are Republicans proposing to reduce what foods can be purchased with SNAP?

SOURCES

ANSWER

This needs context.

Republicans in the Iowa House of Representatives have introduced a bill that would reduce what foods can be purchased with SNAP, but it would only affect Iowa — no such bill has been introduced at the level federal.

WHAT WE FIND

SNAP is overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture, but is administered at the state level.

On January 11, several Republican representatives in the state of Iowa introduced a bill that would propose many changes to the way Iowa administers SNAP and certain other benefit programs.

One of the proposed changes concerns what foods are eligible to be purchased with SNAP in Iowa. The bill aims to replace the current list with a more restrictive list from another program.

That program is called WIC – Women, Infants and Children – and while SNAP is designed to combat hunger in general, WIC only targets specific nutritional deficiencies. Therefore, its list of eligible foods is more limited. It also varies from state to state, with each state releasing a list of approved products every year – often depending on brand, size and flavor.

Using the WIC food list will prevent Iowans from using SNAP to buy certain staple foods like flour, raw meat, and white rice.

However, the bill has not been passed – it has only just been introduced.

Additionally, to make such a significant change to the way Iowa administers SNAP, the state would have to get federal government permission. The bill would require Iowa to request a USDA waiver to change the list of eligible foods.

If the measure passes and the waivers are accepted, the change will still only affect Iowa, as it is only a state proposal. We reviewed the list of legislation introduced in Congress to date, and none of the bills propose changes to SNAP-eligible foods at the federal level.

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Edmund DeMarche

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