Food Bank Safety Net in Iowa Deprived of State Gov’t Support

January 15, 2014; Muscatine Journal

If you’re hungry in Iowa, your local nonprofit food bank won’t have state government assistance in maintaining food on its shelves—for the second time in three years. Governor Terry Branstad nixed $500,000 for food banks in 2012, but approved $1 million in the state budget in 2013, though only so long as they raised $1 million in matching private funds. For 2014, Gov. Branstad’s budget has a goose-egg for food banks.

The director of the Iowa Department of Management, David Roederer, explained that the food banks understood that the 2013 allocation of state funds to be matched by private dollars was a one-time deal, not to be renewed in 2014. That explanation probably does little for the 12.6 percent of Iowans who were classified as “food insecure” between 2010 and 2012. The irony of the decision is that Iowa is considered part of the nation’s “breadbasket,” but is unable not only to ensure that more than a tenth of the population has access to sufficient nutritious food, but to muster up state moneys for food banks. Perhaps it doesn’t count in many circles, but the Branstad budget is yet one more example of many from every state in the nation demonstrating the tattered condition of the nation’s social safety net.—Rick Cohen