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The Thrifty Food Plan and your SNAP Benefits!

The Thrifty Food Plan and your SNAP Benefits!

Do you receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits?  Could you use help with grocery bills?  Learn how the Thrifty Food Plan helps determine how much assistance you may be eligible for!

What is the Thrifty Food Plan?

The Thrifty Food Plan is one of four healthy diet cost plans developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The plans include:

  • Thrifty Food Plan
  • Low-Cost Food Plan
  • Moderate-Cost Food Plan
  • Liberal Food Plan

This is an estimate for cost-effective, nutritious meals that can be prepared at home for a family of four.

The estimate assumes an average cost for a family that includes two adults between the ages of 20 and 50 and two children, aged 6-8 and 9-11.

What is the purpose of the Thrifty Food Plan?

The goal of the Thrifty Food Plan is to provide a resource to estimate a reasonable budget that:

  • represents a cost-effective food budget
  • reflects foods that Americans eat
  • aligns with nutritional guidance
  • supports a healthy lifestyle

What foods are included in the Thrifty Food Plan?

The Thrifty Food Plan is based on nutritional guidance and has specific amounts of food across a variety of categories.  These categories may include: vegetables, fruit, poultry, etc.

What does the Thrifty Food Plan have to do with my SNAP benefits?

The Thrifty Food Plan estimate is used to help determine the SNAP benefit amount you may be eligible for.  The amount takes into consideration that it is cheaper per person to provide food for a larger household than a smaller household.

How is the Thrifty Food Plan estimate determined?

The Thrifty Food Plan estimate is based on a mathematical model taking the following factors into consideration:

  • cost of food
  • nutrients in the food
  • nutritional advice
  • what Americans eat

How often is the Thrifty Food Plan updated?

The USDA was directed to re-evaluate the Thrifty Food Plan this year, and every five years after.  This resulted in the first cost adjustment for the Thrifty Food Plan in over 45 years!  The figures provided by the Thrifty Food Plan in June will set the SNAP benefit amount for the next fiscal year (October 1 through September 30).

Why did my SNAP benefits change?

Multiple recent changes may have impacted your SNAP benefits.  The Thrifty Food Plan was re-evaluated and most households saw an increase of $12 – $16 per person starting in October 2021.

Different pandemic-related increases may have also been effect, as well as many states continuing to receive and distribute emergency allotments to households.

Thrifty Food Plan woman shopping produce

Why is the Thrifty Food Plan important?

According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, ensuring low-income families have access to a healthy diet:

  • helps prevent disease
  • supports children in the classroom
  • reduces healthcare costs
  • helps grow the food economy, creating thousands of new jobs

How do I know if I qualify for SNAP benefits?

More than 42 million Americans receive SNAP benefits based on the Thrifty Food Plan.  If you need help ensuring that your family is able to have nutritious meals, you can check your SNAP benefit eligibility.

There are several factors in deciding if a household is eligible to receive SNAP benefits, including income limits.

Below is information on income limits for October 2021 through September 2022 for the continental US (amounts higher in Alaska and Hawaii):

Household SizeGross Monthly Income
(130% of poverty level)
Net Monthly Income
(100% of poverty level)
each additional member+$492+$379

What if I need more help?

For more information about benefits, we’ve got you covered!

Low Income Relief SNAP resources!
Or check out our EBT Benefits guide!

After 27 years in law enforcement and state Veterans Affairs agencies, I found myself working from home and looking for dollar-stretching resources. Government programs can be notoriously difficult to navigate and I'm happy to lend my experiences to make this easier for others!