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Food insecurity rises as expanded SNAP benefits disappear and prices rise

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

Pandemic-era benefit expansions meant households in Iowa and across the nation had more dollars they could put towards food. But with those benefits significantly lowered, many are facing a hungry reality.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the USDA allowed states special waivers that gave SNAP recipients the maximum allowable benefits, as opposed to whatever they might qualify for under the program. While this didn't result in massive grocery budgets it meant more money than normal for the essentials.

But that all came to an end in April when the USDA terminated the pandemic level allowance. While Iowa numbers show the number of SNAP recipients hasn't materially increased, the total number of benefits allocated to Iowans by the program decreased by 10s of millions of dollars.

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with two Iowans, an individual and a mother of two, about how the expansion improved their prospects and what the cut resulted in. Also this hour, a nutrition educator discusses how changes to SNAP were experienced more broadly. Finally, the CEO of a Des Moines food pantry group discusses where hungry families turn to when benefits are reduced.

Guests:

  • Tara Kramer, resident of Des Moines
  • Cecelia Proffit, resident of Iowa City
  • Christine Hradek, nutrition education program manager at Iowa State University Extension and Outereach
  • Matt Unger, CEO of DMARC Food Pantry Network in Des Moines
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Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Zachary Oren Smith is a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.