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Iowa Republicans Are Being Classist, Paternalistic A**holes With Proposed Restrictions on Food Assistance

Can you imagine not being able to buy fresh meat in Iowa?!

A woman looks confused in a grocery store aisle.

Paternalistic, power-hungry Republicans are once again punishing poverty, this time through a proposed Iowa bill that would further limit what the state’s SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) beneficiaries can buy with their food stamps.

According to Axios, the bill “recommends narrowing SNAP food purchases to only what is on the state’s approved WIC list.”

These restrictions are overreaching, impractical, and downright insulting:

Cooking oil, spices, salt, pepper, soup, and canned vegetables/fruit are apparently also on the chopping block.

In addition to being classist and totally infantilizing, this just shows how out of touch Republican legislators are with their constituents. Can you imagine not being able to buy fresh meat or cooking oil in Iowa?! They aren’t trying to hide their disdain, either.

Iowa’s House Speaker Pat Grassley (grandson of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley) reportedly called SNAP and welfare “entitlement programs.” According to Salon, Grassley said, “They’re the ones that are growing within the budget and are putting pressure on us being able to fund other priorities.”

Solving a problem that doesn’t exist

Some advocates of the bill claim that the goal is to get SNAP recipients to prioritize “healthy” foods. But these restrictions simply would not help anyone achieve that already misguided and overreaching goal. Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that the tens of millions of people on SNAP benefits already tend to eat healthier than their non-SNAP counterparts. She also found that restricting what recipients buy not only doesn’t help them in any way, but it also doesn’t save taxpayers any money.

There’s also the issue of increased scarcity. Pretty much anyone who has gone to a grocery store in the past three years has likely dealt with a shortage of some kind. If a person can only buy certain items with SNAP benefits, and they can’t get that item at a store, then they are forced to travel greater distances in hopes of finding the products they need, or they’ll have to go without, which goes against the whole point of the program!

Thankfully, the bill hasn’t been viewed by a subcommittee yet and some Iowa legislators are already fighting the bill. “WIC is intended for new mothers, pregnant women, and they have pretty antiquated but very old restrictions,” state Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell said, per Salon. “It’s almost like we’re trying to make sure that these people don’t get ahead … 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.”

It’s not a small number of people either. 42.3 million Americans were using SNAP in October 2022 (that’s greater than the population of California). About 267,000 of them were from Iowa, a number that amounts to about one out of every 12 residents—all of whom are real people who will really suffer under these changes.

Further limiting what SNAP users can purchase is a horrible solution for a problem that doesn’t actually exist. Putting more strain on people who are already struggling is never the answer.

(featured image: Viki Mohamad on Unsplash)

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Kimberly Terasaki is a Creative Writing graduate, fanfiction author, and intersectional feminist. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan. She appreciates all constructive criticism and genuine discussion.