From the Director…….
2014 Legislative Session Update
To some, another year means just another legislative session. For us, another year means another opportunity to create policy to positively affect those that struggle with hunger.
Last year, we – along with food banks, food pantries and advocates from around the state – successfully secured $1 million for additional food purchases. This program has enjoyed success. As of January 28th, food banks have been able to purchase food amounting to an additional 922,031 additional meals. The food purchased with these funds has already been made available to 545 agencies in 66 Iowa counties. The expected impact of this program will be the purchase of enough food for an additional 4.5 million meals to be distributed in all 99 Iowa counties.
This year, food banks are advocating for new legislation:
• Sales Tax Exemption – exempting the eight Feeding America food banks from sales tax would free up approximately $80,000 – $100,000 for additional food purchases and programming. The benefits of this savings could be passed on directly to food pantries and food insecure Iowans.
• Income Tax Check-off – A successful push for this bill would place the food banks on the income tax forms allowing Iowans to direct a dollar or two to assist in the fight against hunger.
Currently, our two bills are still waiting to be introduced in committee. We have a shell bill with a collection of food security legislation originating in the House. The Co-sponsors of this bill are Rep. Dawn Pettengill, Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, Rep. Art Staed, Rep. Dan Kelley, and Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt. IFBA has already requested hunger-relief advocates from targeted counties to call their representatives in support of this effort.
Senator Bill Dotzler has taken sponsorship of a sales-tax bill originating in the Senate. We are working closely with Senator Dotzler to make sure this legislation progresses.
Because of the consolidated session time-table, it will be extremely important that you, hunger-relief advocates, food pantries, and leaders in the state rise up and speak in favor of new policy. We don’t want to miss this opportunity. Stay tuned to the Iowa Food Bank Association through April to get the latest updates from the capitol. We will request emails and calls to the statehouse at a few of the key moments this session. Please know, however, it is never too early to call your legislator and tell them that ensuring all Iowans have access to food should be a priority. Together, we can leverage the change needed to address hunger. Together, we can make a difference.