SNAP Benefits in Indiana Will Increase After Thrifty Food Plan Changes


The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday announced changes to its Thrifty Food plan, the basis of its formula for determining the benefits of food stamps, modernizing the program and increasing its purchasing power for the first time in addition to 40 years of history.

The Thrifty Food Plan, one of four budgets created by the USDA to suggest general cost levels for nutritious diets for children and families, was first instituted in the 1970s and, apart from cost of living adjustments, has not been updated to reflect the changes. in dietary recommendations or broader economic trends.

As the plan is used to determine maximum allowances for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – commonly known as food stamps – critics have often said that it puts a healthy lifestyle out of reach of people receiving support. ugly.

The updated plan includes a 21% budget increase, which would result in an average monthly increase of $ 36.24 for those enrolled in the program. USDA projections indicate that Indiana could see up to $ 298 million in additional benefits in the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

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Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, said that rather than continuing to adjust an outdated budget, the new plan more accurately reflects the current needs and realities of the average American family.

“The basic formula was based on food preparation costs and nutritional standards developed in 1975,” she said. “(The update) better reflects 21st century nutritional standards, food preparation needs and ensures that those participating in the program can better afford the healthy foods they need.”

“Looking at an additional 40 cents per person per meal, I think this has a significant impact or will have a significant impact on Hoosiers using the SNAP program, as it provides them with a more adequate amount to be able to purchase the nutritious foods that they have. need.”

How the Thrifty Food plan was updated

The USDA presents four budgets that use dietary guidelines, intake recommendations, and the Consumer Price Index to suggest the overall costs of a healthy diet. Plans are adjusted for inflation and an annual food cost analysis. In July 2020, the USDA announced a 5% increase as a result of this analysis, more than doubling the average annual increase for the program and placing maximum allocations at what was then an all time high.

But that was still an adjustment to the 1970s numbers, which didn’t take into account that not all families will have time to prepare all meals and snacks at home, or that nutritionists now recommend eating more. high in red, orange and leaves. green vegetables, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The review was prompted by the 2018 Farm Bill, which instructed the USDA to reassess the plan by 2022 and then again every five years. President Biden also expressed support for updates to the plan when he takes office in January.

The updates took into account four factors outlined in the 2018 bill: current food prices, the average American diet, dietary advice, and nutritional information. The costs were calculated using updated purchasing data – from stores, not self-reported household data – and include an increase in calories to “support an active lifestyle,” according to a statement from USDA press.

The actual benefits received per household are determined by eligibility factors such as income and household size. The new maximum monthly allowances by household size, from October 1 until September 2022, are:

  • 1: $ 250
  • 2: $ 459
  • 3: $ 658
  • 4: $ 835
  • 5: $ 992
  • 6: $ 1,190
  • 7: $ 1,316
  • 8: $ 1504
  • Each additional person: add $ 188

The average increase in individual benefits comes to about 40 cents per meal per day, said Weikert Bryant.

“It provides them with a more adequate amount so that they can buy the nutritious things they need,” she said.

SNAP “extremely impactful” in the economic recovery of the State

In June, the month for which data is most recent, 635,385 Hoosiers received SNAP benefits, totaling more than $ 145 million, according to the Family and Social Services Administration.

Emergency aid throughout the pandemic increased the amount of aid sent to each recipient, but a look back on January 2020 shows just how obvious the disparity was between the ideal federal government budgets and what the families were receiving. That month, $ 67,969,036 was issued to 561,268 Hoosiers.

The average amount allocated to each household was $ 267.67, less than half the lowest budget for a family of four, according to the USDA.

SNAP aid increases will “have a huge impact” on Indiana’s continued economic recovery, Weikert Bryant said, as families will have more to spend on the things they need.

“It’s spent – it’s not saved, it’s not a monetary value, it’s food, and it goes straight back to communities,” she said. “So for that extra few million dollars that Indiana is likely to see, it’s coming back into our economy.”

You can reach IndyStar reporter Holly Hays at Follow her on Twitter: @hollyvhays.

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