SNAP and the Thrifty Food Plan
SNAP maximum allotments (benefit amounts) are updated each year based on the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan in June and take effect on October 1. The Thrifty Food Plan is the cost of groceries needed to provide a healthy, budget-conscious diet for a family of four.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Thrifty Food Plan?
The Thrifty Food Plan is one of four food plans USDA develops that estimate the cost of a healthy diet across various price points – the Thrifty, Low-Cost, Moderate-Cost, and Liberal Food Plans. The Thrifty Food Plan is the lowest cost of the four. It represents the cost of a nutritious, practical, cost-effective diet prepared at home for a family of four, which is defined in law as an adult male and female, ages 20-50, and two children, ages 6-8 and 9-11.
For more information on food plans, visit USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food (monthly reports).
- How is the Thrifty Food Plan determined?
USDA calculates the Thrifty Food Plan using a mathematical model, or equation, based on the cost of food, the nutrients in food, nutrition guidance, and what Americans eat.
- What foods make up the Thrifty Food Plan?
The Thrifty Food Plan is made up of specific amounts of various food categories – such as dark green vegetables, whole fruit, and poultry – that together comprise a practical, cost-effective diet that meets dietary guidance.
- How often is the Thrifty Food Plan re-evaluated?
The 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to re-evaluate the Thrifty Food Plan by 2022 and every five years thereafter. Prior to this requirement, the Thrifty Food Plan was introduced in 1975 and updated in 1983, 1999, and 2006.
- How does the Thrifty Food Plan impact SNAP benefits?
The Thrifty Food Plan is used to determine SNAP benefit amounts, which vary by household size. By law, the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan in June sets the maximum SNAP benefit amount for a household of four people for the following fiscal year (October 1 through September 30).
USDA determines the maximum benefit amounts for other household sizes using a formula that adjusts for the fact that it costs more per person to feed a smaller household than a larger one. Current maximum household benefit amounts and information on how an individual SNAP household’s benefits are calculated based on the maximum benefit amount can be found on the SNAP Eligibility webpage.
- Thrifty Food Plan, 2021 Report
- USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food
- Cost of Food Monthly Reports
- Changes in Benefits by State (Tables)
- Barriers that Constrain the Adequacy of SNAP Allotments (Report)
- USDA Modernizes the Thrifty Food Plan, Updates SNAP Benefits (Press Release)
- Thrifty Food Plan Re-evaluation Puts Nutrition in Reach for SNAP Participants (Blog)
- What is the TFP? (Blog)
- TFP Listening Sessions (Summary) (Blog)
- The TFP Re-Evaluation Process (Infographic)
- SNAP Participants’ Barriers to Healthy Eating (Infographic)