Policy Issue

Policy Watch: Major Change to SNAP Benefits to Affect Thousands in MetroWest

September 09, 2021

A major change occurred at the federal level in August that will affect thousands of MetroWest residents - the formula used to determine Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits has been updated for the first time in decades, leading to increased benefits for SNAP users. Beginning October 1, SNAP households will receive an average increase of $36 per person, or about $1.20 per day.

SNAP benefit allowances are based on the "Thrifty Food Plan" (TFP), a tool that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) uses to estimate the cost of a nutritious and budget-conscious diet for families. The TFP was introduced in 1975 and was previously cost neutral, meaning that it incorporated rising inflation costs but did not account for increases in the true cost of foods.

Until recently, the TFP had been updated only three times since 1975 to account for changes in consumption patterns and dietary guidance for Americans. Then the 2018 Farm Bill required that the TFP be re-evaluated by 2022 and at regular intervals thereafter, and that revisions take into account current food prices. The Biden administration encouraged the USDA to accelerate these updates in an executive order in January 2021. This change comes within months of the expiration of certain pandemic-related additional food benefits.

For more about the Thrifty Food Plan, visit the USDA website.

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