On Monday, the Biden Administration announced that food stamp benefits would increase by 25% above pre-pandemic levels. This is the greatest benefits increase in the history of the program.
Before the pandemic, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits amounted to $121 per person each month. Under the new adjustment, SNAP benefits are expected to increase by $36.24 per person each month. The increase in benefits will take effect on October 1.
SNAP helps to feed over 42 million Americans, according to the USDA.
The increase was determined by a re-evaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan, which analyzes the price of groceries needed to feed a family of four. The Thrifty Food Plan sets the benefits afforded by SNAP.
The revised benefits will help millions of low-income families be able to achieve a healthy diet. According to a USDA study, nine out of ten SNAP participants faced barriers to maintaining a healthy diet under the current program, given that food stamp benefits were unsuccessful in adequately covering the rising cost of healthy foods.
“This outmoded food plan has limited SNAP’s purchasing power and made unrealistic assumptions about the cost of food, the time it takes to plan and prepare meals and the constraints faced by time-strapped working families,” said Lisa Davis, Vice President of Share Our Strength, an organization working to end childhood hunger, in a statement.
“The updated Thrifty Food Plan better reflects the way families live today, where working households do not have unlimited hours to prepare food from scratch and modern dietary guidelines advise a wider variety of foods, particularly leafy greens and lean proteins, which can be more costly.”
Four factors, including current food prices, the typical American diet, dietary guidelines, and nutrients found in certain food items, guided the re-evaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan.
“A modernized Thrifty Food Plan is more than a commitment to good nutrition—it’s an investment in our nation’s health, economy, and security,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“Ensuring low-income families have access to a healthy diet helps prevent disease, supports children in the classroom, reduces health care costs, and more. And the additional money families spend on groceries helps grow the food economy, creating thousands of jobs along the way.”
Sources: Washington Post 8/16/21; NPR 8/17/21; USDA 8/16/21; No Kid Hungry 8/16/21