Food Stamps: How Thrifty Food Plan Affects Yearly SNAP Benefits

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Nodar Chernishev /

The Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) is used to determine SNAP benefit amounts, which vary by household size. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), benefit amounts are updated yearly based on the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan in June, taking effect on Oct. 1.

The TFP is one of four food plans developed by the USDA, and it estimates the cost of a healthy diet for a family of four across various price points. For other household sizes, a formula is used that adjusts for the fact that it costs more per person to feed a smaller household than a larger one. The USDA calculates the TFP based on the cost of food, the nutrients in food, nutrition guidance and what Americans eat.

Due to the higher cost of the TFP, SNAP beneficiaries saw a 12.5% boost to their benefits from a recent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for fiscal year 2023, as previously reported by GOBankingRates. For a family of four receiving a maximum SNAP allotment in the 48 states and D.C., SNAP benefits will be $939. The SNAP increase went into effect on Oct. 1.

The increase is designed to help offset this year’s soaring inflation rate, which has been one of the largest pain points for many households this year. A USDA report estimated that food-at-home prices have increased between 11% and 12% in 2022, while predictions for 2023 show an increase of up to 3.5%.

The USDA recently re-evaluated the TFP, which increased the purchasing power of the plan by 21% for the first time since the plan was introduced in 1975. The most recent update occurred in 2021. The 2018 Farm Bill requires the USDA to re-evaluate the Thrifty Food Plan by 2022 and every five years after that.

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