The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is intended to alleviate food insecurity among low-income households. Towards this end, it provides eligible low-income households with a monthly benefit amount (SNAP allotment) based on household size and net income to purchase foods from authorized retailers that can be prepared and eaten at home. SNAP benefits are based on the Thrifty Food Plan, which is intended to be a minimal-cost nutritionally adequate diet, but has been the subject of significant criticism for being inadequate. In 2015, about 53 percent of SNAP households experienced food Start Printed Page 70089 insecurity, with about 23 percent of SNAP households experiencing very low food security (or severe food insecurity). While participation in SNAP for about 6 months is associated with decreased food insecurity, it does not guarantee food security or a healthy diet.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has examined the current SNAP benefit and has raised several concerns about its adequacy. The IOM committee recommended that FNS assess the individual, household, and the environmental factors that limit the adequacy of the current SNAP allotment. To this end, FNS is conducting a survey followed by in-depth interviews with SNAP participants.