Skip to main content

You Spoke, We Listened: The Challenges of Purchasing Healthy Food with SNAP Benefits

Posted by Rich Lucas, Deputy Administrator for Office of Policy Support, Food and Nutrition Service in Food and Nutrition
Aug 11, 2021

As directed by Congress in 2018, USDA is re-evaluating the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP)—the estimated cost of an affordable, nutritious diet. The TFP is used to calculate SNAP benefit levels. To complement the re-evaluation efforts and gather insights from those who will be impacted by the result, USDA recently hosted five listening sessions with SNAP participants, researchers, advocates, and others. Here’s some of what we heard:

Families are struggling to get enough food with current SNAP benefit levels: Dr. Valerie Smith, a Tyler, Texas pediatrician, said she sees “too many families and children of all ages who consistently don't have enough food to make it through the month [to] decrease food insecurity and set children up with healthy eating habits for the rest of their lives.”

Limited resources push families to make less healthful choices: “It is hard to choose between having enough to eat and trying to get healthier,” said one SNAP participant, describing the difficult choice to limit fresh food purchases in favor of packaged products that were sometimes less healthful but more affordable.

Additional SNAP benefits can promote nutrition security—and make better futures possible: A member of the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists explained that increasing SNAP benefits would not only help families afford nutritious food, but also with “advancing overall health outcomes, lowering healthcare costs, and improving the economy.”

USDA appreciates those who shared their time and their experiences with us, as we work to make SNAP as effective as possible.

Read more of the feedback received from the listening sessions:

Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition

Write a Response

CAPTCHA This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Hollie M Marcks
Aug 12, 2021

My husband gets SSDI and I dont work and we have 1 child. We dont have enough income to buy groceries by the 2nd week of the month. We are category eligible but we make to much money to receive snap. The income guidelines need to change.!! When was the last time anyone looked at that??

Beth Kohagen
Aug 12, 2021

I am a single senior citizen on limited income and I do not see where they nap friendly to that
group of people. I buy groceries and it cost me at least 150.00 every 2 weeks. This is a purchase
without meat! I do not even get enough snap per month to cover this bi weekly purchase. It
seems snap is structured for only families and right now they probably need help also!
Please send me your thoughts.

Brenda Tate
Aug 12, 2021

I think it’s a great idea

Patricia Watts
Aug 13, 2021

I think it's a great idea, but how long is this going to take? I'm a senior living on my social security. Once this extra we get due to covid stops next month we'll be back to living on $148 a month. If you're not homeless or you have a family you get plenty. Seniors are at the bottom of the list.