We examine the individual and combined effects of two policies affecting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in the fourth quarter of 2021: (1) a reevaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) that increased the maximum SNAP benefit 21 percent, and (2) “emergency allotments,” a temporary measure enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that provides SNAP participants in participating states with the maximum SNAP benefit for their family size.
We estimate the effects of these policies on SNAP benefits and quarterly poverty using the Urban Institute’s Analysis of Transfers, Taxes, and Income Security (ATTIS) microsimulation model. We focus on the fourth quarter of 2021 because the higher benefits from the reevaluated TFP took effect in October 2021, and emergency allotments were still in effect in all but eight states. We assess poverty with the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which incorporates the value of SNAP and other noncash benefits.
Key findings from our projected data include the following:
- The increase in SNAP benefits from the reevaluated TFP kept nearly 2.3 million people out of poverty in the fourth quarter of 2021, reducing poverty by 4.7 percent. The higher benefits from the reevaluated TFP reduced child poverty by 8.6 percent.
- Emergency allotments kept 4.2 million people out of poverty in the fourth quarter of 2021, reducing poverty by 9.6 percent in states with emergency allotments. Emergency allotments reduced child poverty by 14.0 percent in states with these benefits.
- The combined effect of the reevaluated TFP and emergency allotments reduced poverty by 14.1 percent in states with emergency allotments and reduced child poverty by 21.8 percent relative to a scenario without these benefit expansions.
- The poverty reduction from these benefit expansions is highest for Black, non-Hispanic people and for Hispanic people, helping reduce disparities between these groups and non-Hispanic white people. The poverty reduction from these benefit expansions was smaller for non-Hispanic Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders than for the other groups examined here.
Emergency allotments are temporary and will no longer be available in any state after the end of the federally declared COVID-19 public health emergency. Although emergency allotments will end, the higher SNAP benefits from the reevaluated TFP will continue to reduce poverty and help families purchase food.