Children’s HealthWatch Applauds the USDA’s Re-Evaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan

Children’s HealthWatch applauds the USDA’s re-evaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan.

As a network of pediatricians and public health researchers, Children’s HealthWatch commends the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its commitment to making evidence-based decisions in its recent re-evaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP).  The TFP is the cost basis for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Congress required USDA to review the TFP when it passed the Farm Bill in 2018; the Department fulfilled that requirement this year. For over more than 20 years, we at Children’s HealthWatch have documented that SNAP receipt is associated with improved food security and health outcomes, but the dose of the benefit has been too low to support optimal health among young children and families. In addition to our own research, multiple studies including research from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (formerly the Institutes of Medicine) and other researchers, including recent research from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Urban Institute, show SNAP benefits are inadequate for a healthful diet across the lifespan.

We applaud the USDA for its swift review of the evidence and decision to increase SNAP benefits by approximately 27 percent (40 cents per meal) in response to scientific results. Based on our previous research, we anticipate this increase will reduce the persistent and rising rates of food insecurity documented before and during the COVID-19 pandemic to set children and families on a trajectory to more optimal physical and mental health. We look forward to continuing to provide evidence to the USDA and Congressional leaders to build upon these improvements and further enhance the program to ensure that all families are able to afford nutritious diets necessary for a healthy life.