DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowans on SNAP benefits could see some major restrictions with the program and at the grocery store if House Republicans get their way.
More than 250,000 Iowans rely on SNAP benefits, but a new plan by the GOP in the Iowa House may make it harder for families to qualify for assistance.
The newly proposed changes would restrict SNAP recipients to buy only WIC approved foods.
WIC is intended for new mothers, pregnant women, and they have pretty antiquated but very old restrictions," State Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell said.
Some worry this change wouldn't allow Iowans to get the nutrients they need.
Iowans on SNAP would not be able to buy meat, flour, butter, cooking oil, frozen prepared food," Luke Elzinga, Chair of the Iowa Hunger Coalition said. "It's a huge list. Actually it's quicker to list what Iowans would still be able to buy with their SNAP benefits.
The bill also proposes limiting SNAP recipients' assets based on federal guidelines, meaning families wouldn't be able to have more than $2,750 on hand, or $4,250 if they've got someone with a disability or over the age of 60 in their family.
The Iowa Hunger Coalition says this could be a big problem for families hoping to build up their savings.
They also discourage people from applying for SNAP even when they are eligible," Elzinga said. "They really discourage households from saving for emergencies, because you can't really have an emergency savings account past a certain value or you'd be kicked off the program.
This bill hasn't been discussed in a subcommittee yet, but Democrats are already against it and plan to bring up their concerns.
It's almost like we're trying to make sure that these people don't get ahead," Rep. Wessel-Kroeschell said. "I think the job of SNAP is to try and lift people up while they're down and try and help them get ahead, not take away what they already have, what little they have.
Republicans weren't available to comment on their bill yet on Wednesday, but Iowa's News Now will be following up with Speaker Pat Grassley about the proposed changes on Thursday.