CSPI lauds USDA announcement updating "thrifty food plan," increasing SNAP benefits

Advancing Racial Justice and Equity and Support for Underserved Communities at USDA photo

Statement of CSPI President Dr. Peter G. Lurie

Earlier this year, President Biden and USDA Secretary Vilsack acted quickly on Congress’s call to update the Thrifty Food Plan—used to calculate benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—to better reflect the real cost of a nutritious diet. Pre-pandemic, SNAP benefits averaged only $1.40 per person per meal, falling far short of what is needed to afford healthy food for individuals and families. Six out of 10 people who participate in SNAP point to cost as a major barrier to healthy eating.  

Today, USDA announced the results of that update, which found that “the cost of a nutritious, practical, cost-effective diet is 21 percent higher than the current Thrifty Food Plan.” Starting October 1, families across the country will have, on average, 27 percent more SNAP benefits to put nutritious food on the table, compared to pre-pandemic levels. 

SNAP is a nutritional lifeline for more than 40 million people, half of whom are children. But for too many, that lifeline hasn’t been long enough, especially in a time of rising food prices. Now, with the biggest permanent benefit increase in the program’s history, SNAP comes closer to fulfilling its promise to provide nutritional support for those who need it most.  

We applaud Secretary Vilsack, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, and the Biden-Harris administration on this historic and long overdue increase in SNAP benefits. Forty-two million Americans will now have a better chance at eating a healthy diet, something that should be a basic right of all Americans.