Brief Persistent Gaps in SNAP Benefit Adequacy across the Rural-Urban Continuum
Olivia Fiol, Elaine Waxman, Craig Gundersen
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In August 2021, the US Department of Agriculture announced a landmark development to the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), changing the way benefits are determined for more than 42 million people using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Beginning October 1, 2021, because of this change, the value of the maximum SNAP benefit increased 21 percent, and the TFP will be reevaluated every five years. In earlier work, we demonstrated that the maximum SNAP benefit per meal was too low to cover the cost of the average meal purchased by food-secure households with incomes below the federal gross income limit for SNAP in 96 percent of US counties. In this brief, we find that SNAP benefits are inadequate to pay for the average meal in 21 percent of US counties, a dramatic improvement as a result of the changes to the TFP. We also examine how benefit adequacy ranges across Rural-Urban Continuum Codes as defined by the US Department of Agriculture.

Research Areas Social safety net
Tags Families with low incomes Poverty Welfare and safety net programs Hunger and food assistance Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) From Safety Net to Solid Ground Rural people and places
Policy Centers Income and Benefits Policy Center