Iowa puts $1 million toward summer meal sites, still faces criticism for rejecting federal funds

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa is directing nearly a million dollars in grant funding to expand summer meal sites for low-income kids. 


It is an effort that advocates welcome, with worries that it won’t be enough to alleviate the barriers to access that were addressed by a separate federal program — providing roughly $29 million to Iowa’s low-income families — that the state rejected. 


The state is allocating $900,000 to schools and nonprofit organizations that participate in certain federal programs designed to serve summer meals and snacks in counties where at least 50% of children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.


Last summer, the two programs provided roughly 1.6 million meals and snacks to Iowa’s youth, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Still, only about 22,000 kids were served, compared with the more than 362,000 kids who received free or reduced lunches in school.


The announcement Wednesday follows Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ decision not to participate in a separate federal program that gives $40 per month for three months to each child in a low-income family to help with food costs while school is out.


Iowa is one of 14 states that turned down the federal money for a variety of philosophical and technical reasons.