Good news for South Dakota farmers who grow food for humans—the Biden Administration is making sure more of your products get to hungry Americans with the biggest boost ever for food stamps:
Food stamp benefits will jump 27% above pre-pandemic levels, on average, starting in October — the largest increase in the program’s history, the Biden administration announced Monday.
The boost, which advocates say is long overdue, stems from an update to the Thrifty Food Plan, which determines the benefit amounts of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the formal name for food stamps. The plan estimates the cost of groceries needed to provide a budget-conscious diet for a family of four.
…Under the revision, which is permanent, beneficiaries will see a $36 hike in average monthly benefits. They received $121 per person before the coronavirus pandemic.
Including the annual cost of living adjustment, which is based on food price inflation and kicks in every October, the average monthly benefit will jump to $169 per person, the agency said [Tami Luhby, “Historic Increase in Food Stamp Benefits Is on the Way,” CNN, 2021.08.16].
$169 per person per month—that’s about $42 a week. My grocery cost meter is still stuck 30 years in the past, in Brookings, when I first bought my own groceries and found I could get a week’s worth of bike fuel at County Market for $20 spent with a keen eye for discounts. I’m still surprised when I go to Kessler’s here in Aberdeen and find $20 barely gets me a box of cereal, a jug of milk, and fixins for three days of lunch. But according to this food inflation data, even my spartan $20 grocery bill from 1990 would equal about $40.50 today. So using me as a baseline, $42 a week to make sure every family member eats seems pretty reasonable.
And don’t forget, I’m a stingy baseline. I still buy groceries based more on mass per dollar than on actual health input. When left to my own devices (i.e., when cooking for myself and not picking up groceries for my wife’s fine cooking) I almost never buy “organic” alternatives, because they cost more than salty, sugary, processed alternatives. That’s not a recipe for a healthy America.
A study from the USDA in June found 88% of SNAP recipients saying they have trouble getting a healthy diet. 61% of SNAP recipients say the cost of healthy food is a significant barrier to their eating well. President Biden’s boost to SNAP should help more Americans not just eat more but eat better.