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To the editor:
In an after Christmas slap in the face to low income Iowa families, Governor Reynolds announced that Iowa would not participate in the 2024 Federal government’s Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children known as Summer EBT.
Under the program, families would receive $40 a month to purchase food during the summer months when school lunches are not available to them..
Iowa’s share of the cost of the Summer EBT would amount to $2.2 million dollars.
Reynolds argues that the program is not sustainable, an oblique reference to the state’s continuing ability to pay for it. The facts do not bear this out.
The state ended the 2023 year with a $1.83 billion surplus in the General Fund, $902 million in Reserve Funds, and $2.74 billion in the Tax Payer Relief Fund.
In case, you are giving the governor credit for her policies to save Iowan’s money, you might want to take a look at what she is willing to spend on her pet projects, namely the school voucher program, which not only undermines public schools, but is very costly.
“Governor Reynolds and the Republican Controlled State Legislature has allocated $107 million dollars for the fiscal year 2024 to pay for private school vouchers for an estimated 14,068 students. But the number of Iowans who applied for “education savings accounts” vastly exceeded that number: 29,025 applications by the June 30 deadline.”
What! the state can afford $7,635 to every student who applies, with a projected cost of as much $221.6 million and can not afford $2.2 million dollars to feed 240,000 hungry kids over the summer months?
Luke Elzinga, Iowa Hunger Coalition board chair said, “the program makes a difference for families struggling to put food on the table, and expects pantries will feel the additional burden during a time when they’re already experiencing need.”
Starting in 2024, “the program planned to issue a prepaid debit card with $40 per child for three months to eligible families, assisting them in purchasing food during the summer break.” Reynolds also stated that the program does not guarantee that children will receive healthy nutrition.
It appears as though the governor and the legislature support “parental choice” in books in school libraries and applications for school vouchers but have a fundamental distrust in “low-income families’ ability to make healthy food choices for their children,” which strikes me as demeaning and unnecessarily cruel when the core issue is hungry children..