In mid-August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is likely to announce the results of its reevaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), the basis for calculating maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit levels. The reevaluation was mandated by the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill and directed by a Biden Executive Order. It could result in a permanent increase in SNAP benefits effective October 1, 2021, the start of federal fiscal year 2022.

The long overdue TFP-related SNAP benefit adjustment is separate from temporary SNAP benefit increases enacted during COVID-19. SNAP Emergency Allotments remain available in states that have pandemic health declarations in place; the 15 percent SNAP boost that began in January 2021 is set to sunset on September 30, 2021. Prior to the temporary adjustments, SNAP benefits averaged a little more than $4 per person per day.

A new two-page “You Spoke, We Heard” piece provides a snapshot of feedback USDA received during its review. Current SNAP participant Diane S. said, “It’s difficult to describe the trauma that results when SNAP benefits have run out and the paycheck is still days away, forcing parents to put their children to bed on empty bellies.” Another participant Alina S. added, “Even maxed out, we can’t afford to buy much that isn’t canned or boxed, so fresh food is less frequent than we need or is healthy… It is hard to choose between having enough to eat and trying to get healthier.”

Get ready for USDA’s announcement about its TFP reevaluation with FRAC materials that explain the current TFP and its detailed flaws, report on SNAP benefit shortfalls’ negative impacts on adequate food purchasing power in most U.S. counties, and document SNAP benefits’ positive impacts on health and the economy.