USDA's Update of the Thrifty Food Plan

August 20, 2021 / 5 mins read

USDA’s update of the Thirty Food Plan (TFP), impacting the way SNAP benefits are calculated, will help millions of families. This update will substantially retool the SNAP program to provide the targeted assistance advocates have long argued is desperately needed by families. Benefit amounts for the program, formerly known as food stamps, will rise an average of 25 percent above pre-pandemic levels. Eligible families should see larger benefits come October.

Anti-hunger experts have long argued the Thrifty Food Plan’s metrics are out of date with the economic realities most struggling households face. They say the plan, formulated in the 1960s, was designed when many American families still had only one working parent, allowing the other parent more time for labor-intensive, but cheap, cooking from scratch.

Modernizing SNAP so that it reflects rising food prices and what it costs to feed a family in 2021 will help millions of families afford the nutritious food they need. Before the update, the average benefit someone receives is just $1.40 per person per meal. The TFP update means that the average benefit will be $1.80 per person per meal, an increase of $0.40 per person per meal. ​By modernizing the program to better reflect the 21st century nutritional and food preparation needs, it will ensure that those on the program – 2/3 of whom are children, seniors, and people living with disabilities – can better afford the healthy foods they need to thrive.

Though the changes to SNAP are permanent, they address a pandemic-related surge in hunger in America, when projections, at one point, predicted 50 million people — including 17 million children — would be considered food insecure by the end of 2020. Coinciding with a large new child tax credit — which temporarily offers families with children an income guarantee — the growth of food aid comes as part of an enormous pandemic-era expansion of government assistance.

If you don’t yet receive food stamps but think you may be eligible, the USDA has a state-by-state guide to applying for the aid. If accessing the internet is a problem, you can look up your state’s SNAP phone number on the USDA’s website. In many states, you can also dial 211 to apply. The money will be sent to you each month on an EBT card, which acts like a debit card. People typically get the money in less than 30 days, but those with little to no income could get their benefits within a week.

You may also receive assistance from our SNAP Coordinator, Diane Grimes, by calling (540) 371-7666 x146.

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