SNAP benefit set to increase providing more dollars for low-income families to spend on food when pandemic relief expires



The Tennessee Justice Center applauds USDA for its reevaluation and cost adjustment of the Thrifty Food Plan, a measure that is used to calculate the monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit allotment. SNAP (food stamps) is the nation's first line of defense against hunger and this increase will help to ensure that hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans across the state can better afford food.

For the past 45 years, SNAP benefits have only been adjusted to match inflation and the cost of living. It has not increased to match changes in dietary guidance and the higher costs associated with those changes. According to USDA's evaluation, a staggering 88% of participants reported that they were unable to purchase a nutritionally balanced diet with their SNAP dollars. The study illuminated the need for a reevaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan, particularly as our country continues to deal with the economic instability brought on by COVID-19.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, food insecurity has risen dramatically in our state--hitting children particularly hard. Temporary pandemic supports like Pandemic EBT for children, and the SNAP maximum allotment and 15% increase, were a lifeline for Tennesseans as job loses sored. As those benefits start to expire, families face a steep benefit cliff as the Delta variant deepens the health crisis in our state. On October 1, 2021, the average SNAP benefit - excluding temporary COVID-19 supports in place - will raise the monthly allotment by $36.24 per person per month, or from $4.25 to $5.45 per person per day.

Signe Anderson, Director of Nutrition Advocacy at the Tennessee Justice Center, said, "The USDA's revaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan and subsequent increase to the SNAP benefit is a positive step toward ending hunger in Tennessee and beyond. However, the severity of the food insecurity crisis in our country requires more action to eliminate hunger in our state."