EWG: USDA food stamp benefit increase boosts healthy diet for millions

WASHINGTON – The Environmental Working Group today applauds the Department of Agriculture for increasing the standard food stamp benefit provided to more than 40 million Americans who depend on the program.

“Cost can be a barrier to building a healthy diet,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs. “Although many healthy food choices are low-cost, the standard benefit has long been one barrier to making nutritious choices.”

The USDA today released a re-evaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan, used to calculate Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits. Beginning on October 1, the average SNAP benefit will rise by $36.24 per person per month. The change is the first adjustment in the standard benefit since 1975.

“A lot has changed since 1975, including nutrition science and consumer preferences,” Faber said. “Increasing the standard SNAP benefit is critical to building healthy diets.”

The USDA relied on consumption data and the latest dietary guidance to calculate the adjustment in the amount SNAP recipients will receive.

Recent studies show the current SNAP benefit levels are too low to support a healthy diet, even with households contributing their own money toward groceries. A USDA study published this summer found that nearly nine in 10 SNAP participants reported facing barriers to a healthy diet, the most common being the cost of healthy food.

As many as 43 percent of people who rely on SNAP benefits are children, according to USDA data. Hunger in the U.S. disproportionately affects people of color.

The USDA says the average benefit will increase by $36.24 per person per month, or $1.19 per day – an increase of 27 percent from the pre-pandemic level. But most SNAP recipients will receive an increase of just $8 per person per month, because a temporary 15 percent increase in SNAP maximum benefits, intended to help families during the Covid-19 pandemic, is set to expire on September 30.


The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

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