Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Politics

August 28, 2012

Follow up/Update on staffer at Helping Hands

(Continued)

Knoxville —

As for the comment that food stamps, now known as the SNAP program, could be lost if Republican Mitt Romney is elected, Galeazzi said that would have come from him. The difference is that he phrased it as though the program would drastically change if Romney is elected. 

There was also concern that an employee with the Department of Human Services was there, seated next to Toovi, who may have advocated for Obama. DHS employees are not allowed to do this, according to Roger Munns, DHS Spokesman. DHS also does not make it a habit to send its staff members into food pantries. DHS contracts out for this.

The woman who was there, Cindy Jones, is the SNAP Outreach Worker for the Iowa Food Bank Association. Her organization has a contract with DHS to act as its outreach arm. Jones tries to come to Knoxville once a month, or at least every two months, to get people registered for SNAP benefits. One of the program's major target areas is the senior community, as many who are eligible for the program are not registered. Jones was unaware that she would be seated next to a campaign staff member on this trip.

"I didn't know that he was going to be there," Jones said. She added that she would have preferred to be separated from him, to avoid any potential conflict, but couldn't due to Helping Hands' tight quarters. 

Jones said she did no campaigning, though she encouraged people to register to vote. She did not encourage people to vote for Obama.

"I'm prohibited from that," Jones said. "I don't do any political work in my job." 

She concurred that it was Galeazzi who made the comment about changes to the SNAP program. Changes may inevitable as Congress completes the Farm, Food and Agriculture Bill. SNAP benefits are the largest component of this bill. 

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