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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP and the Thrifty Food Plan

SNAP maximum allotments (benefit amounts) are updated each year based on the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan in June and take effect on Oct. 1. The Thrifty Food Plan is the cost of groceries needed to provide a healthy, budget-conscious diet for a family of four.

thrifty food plan graphic

 

Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Thrifty Food Plan?

The Thrifty Food Plan is one of four food plans USDA develops that estimates the cost of a healthy diet across various price points – the Thrifty, Low-Cost, Moderate-Cost and Liberal Food Plans. The Thrifty Food Plan is the lowest cost of the four. It represents a nutritious, practical, cost-effective diet prepared at home for a “reference” family, which is defined in law as an adult male and female, ages 20-50, and two children, ages 6-8 and 9-11. This definition does not impact household eligibility for SNAP.

For more information on food plans, visit USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food (monthly reports).

How is the Thrifty Food Plan determined?

USDA calculates the Thrifty Food Plan using a mathematical model, or equation, based on the cost of food, the nutrients in food, nutrition guidance and what Americans eat.

What foods make up the Thrifty Food Plan?

The Thrifty Food Plan is made up of specific amounts of various food categories – such as dark green vegetables, whole fruit and poultry – that together comprise a practical, cost-effective diet that meets dietary guidance.

How often is the Thrifty Food Plan re-evaluated?

The most recent update occurred in 2021.

The 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to re-evaluate the Thrifty Food Plan by 2022 and every five years thereafter. Prior to this requirement, the Thrifty Food Plan was introduced in 1975 and updated in 1983, 1999 and 2006.

How does the Thrifty Food Plan impact SNAP benefits?

The Thrifty Food Plan is used to determine SNAP benefit amounts, which vary by household size. By law, the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan in June sets the maximum SNAP benefit amount for a household of four people for the following fiscal year (Oct. 1 through Sept. 30).

USDA determines the maximum benefit amounts for other household sizes using a formula that adjusts for the fact that it costs more per person to feed a smaller household than a larger one. Current maximum household benefit amounts and information on how an individual SNAP household’s benefits are calculated based on the maximum benefit amount can be found on the SNAP Eligibility webpage.

How and when did SNAP benefits change?

Starting in October 2021, almost all SNAP households saw a modest increase in their SNAP benefits because of the 2021 TFP re-evaluation—generally between $12 to $16 per person per month. The exact amount for individual households differed. States automatically made these changes for all SNAP households.

The table below shows the amount SNAP benefits increased starting in October 2021 in states that were still providing temporary Emergency Allotments in September and October 2021.

A few states had already ended Emergency Allotments. In households in those states, SNAP benefit changes were generally close to the amounts shown in the table but may have differed slightly because of other annual adjustments that took effect at the same time.

How and when did SNAP benefits change as a result of the 2021 TFP re-evaluation?

Starting in October 2021, almost all SNAP households saw a modest increase in their SNAP benefits because of the 2021 TFP re-evaluation—generally between $12 to $16 per person per month. The exact amount for individual households differed. States automatically made these changes for all SNAP households.

The table below shows the amount SNAP benefits increased starting in October 2021 in states that were still providing temporary Emergency Allotments in September and October 2021.

A few states had already ended Emergency Allotments. In households in those states, SNAP benefit changes were generally close to the amounts shown in the table but may have differed slightly because of other annual adjustments that took effect at the same time.

Monthly SNAP Benefit Increase
48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia

Household Size Amount of SNAP Increase, starting October 2021
1 $16
2 $29
3 $42
4 $53
5 $63
6 $76
7 $84
8 $96

*In states that ended Emergency Allotments, the benefit changes that households saw in October 2021 were generally similar to the amounts shown above but may have been slightly different because of other annual adjustments that also took effect in October 2021. However, in these states, SNAP households receiving the minimum benefit of $16 per month in September 2021 only saw their benefits increase $4 per month in October 2021.

Are these changes permanent?
Yes, the increase to the non-pandemic SNAP benefit amounts is permanent. In general, a SNAP benefit amount may change based on a household’s circumstances. Additionally, household benefit allotment amounts may change when Emergency Allotments end in your state.
Related Resources
11/21/2022