AUSTIN, Texas (KETK) – The USDA announced changes for how they calculate SNAP benefits, which will result in a 27% increase to benefits in Texas, equivalent to $1.5 billion annually.
The Thrifty Food Plan is a baseline diet used to calculate benefit levels. The last time it was updated was in 1975. This update is expected to increase the amount of USDA commodities available for food banks.
“Recently, SNAP benefits went up 27% and what that means is that if you receive food stamps, you’re going to get a little more money to go towards nutritious food every month,” East Texas Food Bank Chief Impact Officer Tim Butler said. “That sounds like a lot of money to you and me, but the average senior gets $16 in SNAP a month, while it’s not a lot, it’s very much needed.”
Texans will see an average monthly increase of $36 per person, equivalent to $1.20/day or 40 cents per meal.
“This is long overdue and sorely needed relief for families who are stretching to put enough food on the table,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas. “Everyone knows the cost of living is very different than it was in 1975. These adjustments, which are based on years of scientific research, will have an important impact for the families we serve.”
According to the East Texas Food Bank, the majority of families using SNAP use up those benefits within in the first half of the month.
A review of the Thrifty Food Plan was mandated by a bipartisan farm bill passed in 2018. The updated plan seeks to better reflect how families live today, as well as dietary guidelines that advise a wider variety of healthy foods, which can be more costly. Despite the large overall impact in Texas, the average Texan receiving SNAP will see an increase of just forty cents per meal.
“Our food banks have been struggling to meet increased food needs in their communities,” said Cole. “We know SNAP can reach many more people and offer food assistance on a much larger scale than we can. This change will rebalance the program in favor of healthier diets and reduced hunger in Texas.”
The East Texas Food Bank has a Benefits Assistance Program, which helps families sign up for social service programs like SNAP. Appointments are being offered in-person and virtually due to COVID-19.