Letters to the Editor

Poverty and hunger not limited to urban areas

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst is on the conference committee negotiating with the House of Representatives to determine the final version of the farm bill. The House version has funding cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.

SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net.

In addition, the House version imposes increased work requirements. The resulting bureaucratic hurdles could result in many eligible participants losing their SNAP benefits. The funding cuts and enhanced work requirements are not in the Senate version.

Poverty in Iowa is not just an urban problem. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports the poverty rate in rural Iowa is 11.5 percent, compared with 11.9 percent in urban areas of our state. USDA data show that since 2012, SNAP participation is highest among households in rural areas and small towns under 2,500 people.

Many things contribute to rural poverty.

Farm income is down. The population of older people is larger in rural areas. There are limited employment opportunities, transportation problems and difficulty finding child care.

SNAP is a vital support for low-income individuals and families in urban and rural Iowa. Please urge Ernst to stand firm on the Senate version of the farm bill in the conference committee negotiations.

Stephen Panther

Iowa City

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