Iowa’s Department of Human Services is urging more Iowans to see if they qualify to get food assistance. D-H-S spokesman Roger Munns says the agency does a good job of serving folks who’ve already applied. Munns says the agency knows there are thousands of people not getting food assistance just because they’ve haven’t applied, and is trying to make it easier. Munns explains the federal government funds the food program, so it’s not like the Iowa program will bear a heavier burden if it adds more clients. It used to be foodstamps, and the food assistance isn’t limited to a certain number of dollars — if you’re eligible, you’ll get the assistance. Since a plastic debit-style card is now in use statewide, Munns says it’s helped the “dignity factor” that prevented people from applying because anyone in the store could see they were getting state aid. The department has a pretty good idea that there are under-served part of the population. And Munns says some parts of the state’s population are under-served. The elderly as far less likely to get benefits they’re entitled to, so the agency’s asking older Iowans to look at their situation and come check with a local Human Services office to see if they qualify for help. The average benefit is 180-dollars per household per month, a good start, but Munns says it won’t cover the whole bill. He says a building-block for all social services is a full stomach, he says, as it won’t solve all problems but with baseline nutrition, problems can be more manageable. Munns says nobody’s getting rich off food assistance. He says the average is just 180-dollars a month, and still doesn’t begin to cover a family’s whole food bill, but it can help. Another change to make it easier is dropping a requirement that low-income working clients file paperwork every month t verify how much they earn. The experience of Iowa and other states shows there isn’t much difference in accuracy if they report only every six months, since he says incomes don’t change that much.
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