USDA Announced Largest Increase to Food Assistance Benefits in SNAP Program History

The USDA announced a 27% increase to SNAP benefits for Texas residents, equivalent to $1.5B annually.

Food banks welcomed USDA’s Monday announcement of a long overdue update to the calculation of federal food aid that will result in a 27% increase to SNAP benefits for Texas residents, equivalent to $1.5B annually

The Thrifty Food Plan, a baseline diet used to calculate benefit levels, had not been updated since 1975 and so failed to capture shifts in food costs and consumers’ circumstances. The update is also expected to increase the amount of USDA commodities available to food banks. 

“This is long overdue and sorely needed relief for families who are stretching to put enough food on the table,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas. “Everyone knows the cost of living is very different than it was in 1975. These adjustments, which are based on years of scientific research, will have an important impact for the families we serve.” 

Research has shown that most families participating in SNAP exhaust their benefits in the first half of the month. This results in food insecurity and associated health problems in the second half of the month, including a documented increase in hospital admissions for diet-related diseases like diabetes. 

A review of the Thrifty Food Plan was mandated by a bipartisan farm bill passed in 2018. The updated Plan seeks to better reflect how families live today, as well as dietary guidelines that advise a wider variety of healthy foods, which can be more costly. Despite the large overall impact in Texas, the average Texan receiving SNAP will see an increase of just forty cents per meal. 

“Our food banks have been struggling to meet increased food needs in their communities,” said Cole. “We know SNAP can reach many more people and offer food assistance on a much larger scale than we can. This change will rebalance the program in favor of healthier diets and reduced hunger in Texas.”

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