‘Give Us The Flexibility’: Iowa Governor Rejects Biden Admin’s Handling Of Kids’ Summer Food Assistance Program

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Hailey Gomez General Assignment Reporter
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Republican Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has rejected a federal Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) for kids in lieu of “enhancing and expanding” already existing nutrition programs, according to state officials.

The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and state Department of Education announced on Friday the state will “not participate in the 2024 Summer Benefits Transfer for Children” program which would have given $40 per month to children in low-income families, helping with food costs while school’s out of session. 

Reynolds stated in a press release with the two departments that the federal program had been previously established during the “COVID-era,” highlighting that there are already “well-established programs.” The Republican governor additionally noted that if the Biden administration wanted to “make a real commitment” to Iowa families, then they should “invest” in the existing programs as well. (RELATED: Iowa Board Of Regents Crack Down On Diversity, Equity And Inclusion Programs At State Universities)

“Federal COVID-era cash benefit programs are not sustainable and don’t provide long-term solutions for the issues impacting children and families. An EBT card does nothing to promote nutrition at a time when childhood obesity has become an epidemic,” Reynolds stated.

“HHS and the Department of Education have well-established programs in place that leverage partnerships with community-based providers and schools who understand the needs of the families they serve. If the Biden Administration and Congress want to make a real commitment to family well-being, they should invest in already existing programs and infrastructure at the state level and give us the flexibility to tailor them to our state’s needs.”

The state officials stated that the Summer EBT program did not have a “strong nutrition focus,” emphasizing that participating in the program would cost “an estimated $2.2 million” for the state. (RELATED: ‘I Believe He Can’t Win’: Iowa Governor Talks Trump Polls, Calls For ‘Effective Leader’ In 2024)

“No child should go hungry, least of all in Iowa, but the Summer EBT Program fails to address the barriers that exist to healthy and nutritional foods. Iowa’s kids need consistent access to nutritionally dense food, and their families need to feel supported to make healthy choices around food and nutrition. Another benefit card addressed to children is not the way to take on this issue,” stated HHS Director Kelly Garcia.

Some Democrat state lawmakers have spoken out against the governor’s choice, stating that it was “extremely disappointing,” according to the Associated Press.

“It’s extremely disappointing that the Reynolds administration is planning to reject federal money that could put food on the table for hungry Iowa kids,” Sen. Knox said in a statement, according to AP News. “This cruel and short-sighted decision will have real impacts on children and families in my district and communities all across Iowa.”