Rep. Ann Meyer. (photo from IA Legislature)

A key Republican lawmaker says the Iowa House will not move forward with a proposal that would have prevented Iowans from using government food assistance to buy things like fresh meat, butter or flour. Representative Ann Meyer of Fort Dodge says they’ll instead rewrite the bill to try to bar SNAP recipients from buying candy and soda.

“SNAP is Supplemental Nutrition Assistance. These are not nutritional items,” Meyer says. “We can’t take it out of a state. What we’re asking for is a waiver.”

The federal government has twice denied Maine’s request to prohibit food assistance benefits from being used to buy sugar-sweetened drinks or candy. The beverage industry successfully blocked attempts to include the prohibition in the 2018 Farm Bill, where the rules for what are commonly called food stamps are written.

Iowa Hunger Coalition chair Luke Elzinga says he’s glad the severe restrictions on how poor Iowans may use food assistance are being removed, but he’s concerned about other parts of the bill, like asset limits which would make it hard for families with two vehicles to qualify for food assistance.

“We think it’s a really misguided and harmful bill that would results in Iowans being kicked off the program,” he says.

A public subcommittee hearing on the bill is scheduled for tomorrow at the Iowa Capitol.

(By Katarina Sostaric, Iowa Public Radio)