Statement of CSPI President Dr. Peter G. Lurie
The Center for Science in the Public Interest is disheartened to see the introduction of H.F. 3, the so-called “Public Assistance Program Integrity Act,” in the Iowa legislature. This cruel and misguided bill proposes severe restrictions on what can be purchased using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, including restrictions on purchases of certain staple foods like grains, canned vegetables, and fresh meats. Along with limiting eligible foods, the bill imposes strict asset limits, more burdensome work requirements, and additional hoops for single parents. This bill is a direct affront to individuals and families who participate or qualify for SNAP. It is a clear attempt to make the program difficult to use and to deter people from enrolling.
The bill purports to align SNAP with the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food package. WIC is a supplemental food program and has more cost constraints than SNAP, so the food package tries to limit costs by only allowing the most affordable options that also align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It is unreasonable to align SNAP with WIC as SNAP has a significantly broader reach, supporting individuals and families across a range of age groups. The flexibility of SNAP supports participants with a variety of dietary needs, be it due to allergies, household size, or chronic health conditions.
SNAP is a powerful food safety net program with multiple public health impacts for the millions of individuals and families that participate. It helps reduce poverty, food insecurity, health care expenditures, and the risk of chronic conditions later in life. The passage of H.F. 3 would mean individuals and families are spending more out of pocket on food costs—funds that could be spent on rent, prescriptions, or other basic needs.
If Iowa legislators want SNAP to better support health, this bill is not the answer. CSPI urges legislators to abandon this punitive and stigmatizing bill and instead support Iowans through expanded SNAP eligibility and benefits.