Kim Reynolds turns down funding to feed hungry kids because it was COVID-funded – and then launches her own, worse, COVID-funded program.

Kim Reynolds, after turning down federal funding to feed hungry kids because it was built upon “COVID-era” relief funding, announced a weaker, competitive program — also funded by COVID-relief funds.

After turning down $29 million in federal funds to feed hungry kids – which Iowans have already been taxed for – Kim Reynolds has opted instead to establish a competitive grant program, expecting applicants to prove how the hunger of those they serve is more important than that of other applicants.

In her statement announcing the program, Governor Reynolds dared to claim that feeding hungry Iowa kids has “always been a priority.” As a reminder, she turned down $29 million in non-competitive federal funding, which would have supported Iowa children with funding 32 times that of the program Reynolds is establishing.

Reynolds’ program is funded using COVID relief dollars. At the same time, Governor Reynolds’ reasoning for turning down the $29 million in federal funding  was that “COVID-era cash benefit programs are not sustainable and don’t provide long-term solutions for the issues impacting children and families.” Her reasoning is flawed. 

“We truly hope this grant program increases access to nutritious food for low-income kids during the summer — but the fact remains that our governor chose to deny $29 million in federal funds that would go directly to low-income families with children who face additional financial struggles during the summer months when kids are out of school,” said Luke Elzinga, Board Chair of the Iowa Hunger Coalition.

“This alternative proposal is not only a labyrinth of red tape, but a clear downgrade from the direct and accessible aid provided by Summer EBT,” said Representative Sami Scheetz (D-Cedar Rapids). “Instead of ensuring that every child in need receives $40 monthly for food, the governor’s program forces families to navigate a patchwork system of meal sites, which may not even be within practical reach for many.”

“Too little, too late. And [Governor Reynolds is] making it a competitive grant like it’s the hunger games instead of helping hungry Iowa kids in the summer,” said Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand (D).

“Rather than use an opportunity to bring Iowans’ federal tax dollars back to Iowa and feed hungry kids, this Governor unwisely wants organizations to fight one another for a chance at funding they rely on to feed children,” said IDP Chair Rita Hart. “That makes no sense.  It’s an unbelievably poor governing decision,and Iowa kids deserve far better.”