Governor Reynolds announces summer meal program after rejecting federal program


Governor Kim Reynolds on Wednesday announced a $900,000 grant program for low-income families to spend on food for their school-aged children in the summer.

The Gazette reports the new state grant program is being funded by federal pandemic relief funds. It is designed to expand summer meal sites that are part of the already-state-established Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option. Those programs are administered in partnership with the US Department of Agriculture by the Iowa Department of Education.

In December, the governor rejected a $29 million federal program called the Summer EBT Program. It began during the COVID-19 pandemic and is now being made permanent. It provides low income families with $40 per month per eligible child in benefits over the summer months.

Iowa and 16 other states, nearly all governed by Republicans, declined participation in the program. Reynolds claimed the federal program did not promote nutrition and would not be sustainable over time.

Democrats criticized Reynolds for rejecting federal money that could have helped kids in need. The Iowa Hunger Coaliton board chair, Luke Elzinga, told the Gazette average daily participation in the state-run programs last year was less than 10 percent of the estimated 245,000 kids who would’ve benefitted from the Summer EBT program.