USDA Thrifty Food Plan Increase Means More Nutrition Assistance Funding for Puerto Rico
ROBBINSVILLE, N.J., August 16, 2021 – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced a 23% increase, or $463.8 million in annual funding for nutrition assistance in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. In fiscal year 2022, which starts Oct. 1, 2021, the Commonwealth will receive $2.5 billion grant for the Puerto Rico Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP). In fiscal year 2021, Puerto Rico received $2.038 billion for NAP.
The increase is driven by a Congressionally-mandated re-evaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan, a data-driven estimate of the cost of a nutritious, practical, cost-effective diet. The bipartisan Farm Bill, passed through Congress in 2018, directed USDA to modernize the Thrifty Food Plan, which plays a critical role in determining benefit amounts for some federal nutrition assistance programs. Updating the TFP is of particular importance at a time in which the pandemic exacerbated and shined a light on the challenges of food insecurity in this country.
USDA has been engaged in a scientific, evidence-based process to modernize the TFP and make it more practical and up to date with current realities for the American people. “This update to the TFP will help the more than 1.5 million Puerto Rican residents who participate in NAP in providing nutritious meals for their families, “said USDA Food and Nutrition Service Mid-Atlantic Region Administrator Dr. Patty Bennett.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, USDA, via the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020, has invested more than $730 million in Puerto Rico’s Pandemic EBT and provided more than $940 million in benefits for Puerto Rico’s Child Nutrition Programs, Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). USDA also recently released $966.12 million in additional nutrition assistance funds via the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
- Prior to the pandemic, almost 200,000 children in Puerto Rico relied on school meals to get the nutrition they need to grow and learn. P-EBT funds allow eligible school children who were learning virtually due to school closures, to receive temporary emergency nutrition benefits loaded on EBT cards to replace the value of lost school meals.
- Nearly 100,000 participants in the WIC program received a temporary increase to $35 per child and adult, per month, on their WIC cash-value voucher. These additional funds increase the purchasing power of WIC participants and enables them to buy and consume more healthy fruits and vegetables.
- The Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program received more than $2.6 million for food distribution costs for emergency feeding organizations including food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens.
- NAP participants received temporarily higher benefits – an increase from $122 to $234 for a single person household – for three to four months as part of the $597 million in additional funding allocated to Puerto Rico in the Consolidated Appropriation Act 2021.
- The funds received under the American Rescue Plan Act are providing increased NAP elderly household benefits of $11 – a nearly 20 percent increase – for up to 12 months. Furthermore, all NAP households are receiving an additional $58 in benefits to their standard monthly allotment of $112 for a one-person household.
USDA’s nutrition assistance programs are powerful tools to help support struggling families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities access to healthy, affordable food regardless of race, ethnicity, or background.
Households with questions about their benefits should contact the Puerto Rico Department of the Family’s Community Relations Division via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or go in person to their local office and use the drop box to leave their question.
USDA’s FNS leverages its 15 nutrition assistance programs to ensure that children, low-income individuals, and families have opportunities for a better future through equitable access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food, while building a more resilient food system. Under the leadership of Secretary Tom Vilsack, FNS is fighting to end food and nutrition insecurity for all through programs such as SNAP, school meals, and WIC. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To learn more, visit www.fns.usda.gov.
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