The U.S.D.A. estimates 12% of Iowa households struggled with “food insecurity” last year — sometimes going without meals. Mike Owen of the Iowa Policy Project think-tank says the government’s “food stamp” program has helped put food on many of those tables, but there’s a looming challenge.
“That still is a question as to whether this budget-cutting frenzy that seems to have taken hold in Washington is going to hit programs that have a critical impact on peoples’ lives, without a supporting replacement,” Owen says. Andrew Cannon, an Iowa Policy Project researcher, says about 340,000 Iowans have gotten food stamps in the past year.
“As many Iowans are deciding how to dress their Thanksgiving table, thousands more face more pressing questions: Where will my next meal come from? Do I skip breakfast or lunch today? Is this enough food for the rest of my family for the rest of the week?” Cannon asks.
The budget deal reached in August already outlined cuts in the “Women, Infants and Children” program which pays for staples like baby formula, eggs and some fruits and vegetables to women who have children under the age of five.
“In Iowa, an average of 54,000 infants and children were served per month (and) 16,000 women were served per month by WIC in the first eight months of this federal fiscal year ’11,” Cannon says. There are over 1,100 food pantries and other charities that provide food to needy Iowans and Cannon found nearly one-third of the Iowans who received food stamp benefits in the past year also got food from a pantry.