Sens. Ernst and Grassley must put people first by boosting SNAP till the economy recovers

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Iowans have been hit hard by COVID-19 and the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Thousands of Iowans have lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table. 

Months into this pandemic, about 134,000 Iowa households — including 98,000 children — report not having enough food to eat, according to a late June Census Bureau survey. 

The Senate had a valuable opportunity to give Americans to put people first when it released what is expected to be its last relief bill of the year this week. It failed to do so.

The bill has many shortcomings, but one big one is its failure to increase SNAP benefits. SNAP is the best, most direct way to ensure Iowans have the food they need during this economic downturn. It is also one of the fastest, most effective forms of economic stimulus. In June alone, SNAP pumped $287,742 into the Buena Vista County economy, dollars that go directly to local retailers and help them stay in business. 

The Senate bill is not the end of the story. The next step for the relief bill is negotiations between the Senate and the House. Senators Ernst and Grassley should support temporarily boosting the maximum SNAP benefits by 15% until jobs return and the economy recovers. There is no acceptable number of hungry Iowa children. 

It’s clear tough times are not over — the coronavirus is surging across the country and the economy projected to remain weak. Senators Ernst and Grassley, we’re in this together — and we’re counting on you to help Iowans get through these unprecedented times.   

STEPHEN DYKSTRA

Des Moines

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