Some Iowans are about to lose food stamp benefits because a federal waiver tied to the recession will soon expire. Iowa’s unemployment rate has improved, so starting October 1st, the state will again require able-bodied adults without kids to hold down jobs to qualify for food stamps.
Wendy Rickman, the administrator of the program for the Iowa Department of Human Services, says the waiver was a good thing while so many Iowans were jobless. “The idea that we would have that expectation of not allowing food assistance for folks who weren’t getting work just didn’t make sense, but again most states, because of their high unemployment, are still able to operate under that waiver,” Rickman says, adding, “Iowa is not.”
The government is waiving the work requirement for more than 6,000 Iowans and Rickman says she’s concerned some who still can’t find work will continue to need food assistance. “We’re talking about an individual’s ability to have sustenance, so it’s always a concern,” she says. “It’s a reasonable expectation. I think federally that as states improve, those kinds of waivers that gave us some grace are started to be reduced as well.”
The U.S. House last week passed a bill eliminating the work requirement waivers in the future, regardless of the nation’s unemployment rate.