DES MOINES | Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday encouraged Iowans to donate to the Food Bank of Iowa and defended Gov. Terry Branstad’s veto of $500,000 for the program. The Siouxland Food Bank was going to receive about $37,500 through the nonprofit organization.

Saying that campaigns for the Food Bank should be “privately led, publicly endorsed,” Reynolds said the Branstad administration has supported the program and even started it in 1983 during the farm crisis.

The group provides food for 425 partner agencies in 55 counties.

Branstad killed a $500,000 appropriation for the nonprofit by a line-item veto on May 25, with the money going back to the state’s general fund. In a veto message, Branstad said that “private donations are the best way to support the Food Bank,” rather than taxpayer money.

Linda Scheid, executive director of the Siouxland Food Bank, which provides food to 11 counties, said the idea of relying on private donations at a time of economic uncertainty and high demand is shortsighted. Requests are up about 32 percent over the past two years, she said.

“I understand that concept, but it is simply not enough, not when you have that kind of increase in that time frame,” Scheid said.

The comments from Reynolds came during a press conference to announce details for Yankee Doodle Drive Against Hunger, a central Iowa food drive next month.

Carey Miller, the executive director of the Food Bank of Iowa, who joined Reynolds at the news conference, said summer is a particularly hard time for the organization because schoolchildren who depend on free and reduced-price lunches during the school year don’t have the same access to meals during summer.

She said the organization is “happy for the support” it has received from the state.

Thirty-eight states have a state emergency food allocation; Iowa is one of a dozen that do not.

Scheid said the situation means fundraisers are even more important for food providers.

“Right now, the demand is so high,” she said, “and the supply is so low.”

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Republicans in Congress say closing loopholes in state food stamp programs could save $2 billion a year. NATION A10