As directed by Congress in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (PL 115–334, the 2018 Farm Bill), and for the first time since 2006, USDA reevaluated the Thrifty Food Plan to reflect updated data on food prices, food composition, and consumption patterns, and current dietary guidance in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. USDA took a careful and considered approach, using the same underlying mathematical model used in previous reviews and only making changes if there was clear and convincing evidence to do so. The methods used to reevaluate the Thrifty Food Plan were peer reviewed by subject matter experts from other USDA agencies.
Effective Oct. 1, 2021, the market basket costs indicated in the Thrifty Food Plan, 2021 report (below) serve as the basis for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit allotments. USDA updates these costs each month to reflect inflation using the Consumer Price Index and the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan in June serves as the basis for SNAP benefit allotments in the following federal fiscal year beginning each October 1.
The Thrifty Food Plan, 2021 report provides transparency on the reevaluation process, making information available to researchers who may want to reproduce the analysis. Further, the Supplement to Thrifty Food Plan, 2021 (.xlsx) provides the input data compiled exclusively for the development for the Thrifty Food Plan, 2021. These data include modeling and market basket categories and food price data that were included in the report. The GAMS code and associated input files are available for researchers interested in reproducing the Thrifty Food Plan, 2021 Optimization Model (.zip).