FNS Administrator Pam Miller
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Wednesday released its June 2020 Cost of Foods Report, announcing a more than 5 percent increase in the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan from last year.
This increase is more than double the 20-year annual average increase of around 2 percent. Based on this new update, beginning Oct. 1, 2020, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants’ maximum monthly benefit allotment will be at the highest level in the history of the program.
“The Thrifty Food Plan is designed to adjust to changing economic conditions and support Americans during tough times,” FNS Administrator Pam Miller said. “This adjustment will not only help SNAP participants during this unprecedented crisis but will also support the American farmers, ranchers, fishers, and producers who are working hard throughout this pandemic to keep our grocery stores stocked with nutritious, domestic products.”
The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, which governs SNAP, requires that the average cost of foods in the marketplace be used to adjust the maximum SNAP benefit allotments from year-to-year. The food costs reported in June of a given fiscal year are used to calculate the SNAP maximum allotments for the next fiscal year (October through September).
The new maximum benefit – or allotment – for a household of four will be $680, an approximate 5.3% increase over the current maximum allotment of $646. Current SNAP recipients may see an increase in benefits beginning in October, if there are no changes in their household circumstances.
This adjustment in SNAP benefits complements the many actions USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has taken to date to help American families put food on the table during the coronavirus pandemic. Other measures include:
- Allowing states to issue emergency supplemental SNAP benefits totaling more than $2 billion per month, increasing SNAP benefits by 40%;
- Expanding the online purchasing pilot to 47 states, covering more than 90% of all SNAP households;
- Waiving certain administrative requirements to make it easier for states to serve their SNAP clients during the pandemic;
- Implementing Pandemic EBT, which is providing benefits similar to SNAP to 99% of children normally receiving free or reduced-price school meals;
- Debuting the “Meals for Kids” interactive site finder to help families find free meals for children at more than 77,000 locations while schools are closed;
- Supporting food banks with over $6 billion worth of food and administrative resources;
- Providing a $50 million boost in food assistance through the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations; and
- Supporting the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Farmers to Families Food Box program, which is delivering American-grown and produced foods to low income households.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.