Iowa’s transition away from paper foodstamps is almost complete. State human-services agency spokesman Roger Munns says the last few clients are being brought on-line with the new system of distributing food aid. The last recipients, in the western part of the state, either have or soon will get their “debit-like cards,” and before long, food stamps will be obsolete. Munns says the new system will use what looks like an ordinary bank card.He says Iowans are very proud folks, and it’s embarrassing to have to pay for food with a system like coupons that makes them stand out, so from now on, foodstamp customers will be “virtually indistinguishable” from everyone else. Munns says there are good administrative reasons to go to the new debit-card system for foodstamp assistance. There won’t be the cost of mailing out all the coupons, no more lost in the mail or taken in fraud, and merchants also will get their money right away and can quit bundling the coupons to send them in to be redeemed. Munns says the move won’t change the amount of benefits, how they’re calculated, or the way clients can use the program.Just like the paper coupons, it can’t be used to buy nonfood items like school supplies or car tires, and unlike bank debit cards, it can’t be used to withdraw cash. Iowa’s actually one of the last states to replace the old foodstamp system with the new cards, which are “recharged” every month with a client’s allotment of aid. Munns says there are about 150-thousand people in Iowa (67-thousand households) getting foodstamp aid, which totals 120-million dollars a year in federal funds that come back to the state.
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