Under the revision, which is permanent, beneficiaries will see an increase of $36 in average monthly benefits. They received $121 per person before the coronavirus pandemic.
Including the annual cost of living adjustment, which is based on food price inflation and kicks in October each year, the average monthly benefit would jump to $169 per person, according to the agency.
The adequacy of food stamp benefits has long been in question. Advocates of low-income Americans argue that money runs out before the month is up. But conservative experts point out that the program is designed to supplement a family’s food budget.
Left-leaning advocates have said for years that the Thrifty Food Plan, introduced in 1975, is outdated. They argue that it makes unrealistic assumptions about the affordability and availability of food today, as well as about the time families have to shop and prepare meals.
said Elaine Waxman, senior fellow at the Urban Institute. “All of these things have changed so dramatically. So it’s too late.”
The average meal cost in the United States is $2.41 — 22% above the maximum benefit for food stamps, according to a recent report by the Urban Institute co-authored by Waxman. In 2020, the maximum benefit did not cover the cost of the modestly priced meal in 96% of US counties. However, the review will reduce that number to an estimated 21% of counties.
However, some advocates argue that more remains to be done.
“The Thrifty Food Plan is still really minimal. What’s the least amount of money a struggling family should spend to get a healthy diet?” said Lisa Davis, Senior Vice President of Share Our Strength, which strives to end childhood hunger and poverty.
“It’s by no means generous,” she added. “This is really important toward the adequacy of the benefits of SNAP, but we’re not quite there yet.”