Everybody is Talking About the Thrifty Food Plan, So Here’s the Deal

Published on Aug 18, 2021 in Adults, CalFresh, Federal Advocacy, Older Adults

On August 16th, The US Department of Agriculture( USDA) announced a long-overdue update to the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP). The release of the updated TFP fulfills the congressional directive of the 2018 bipartisan Farm Bill. 

The TFP update is welcomed news! Decades of evidence documented the Thrifty Food Plan to be out of date and increasingly unrealistic. This update demonstrates recognition of today’s reality and a science-driven effort to increase the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to better support families accessing the food they need to thrive.      

What is the Thrifty Food Plan?

The Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), was designed to provide a nutritionally adequate diet at a minimal cost. It is the basis for which CalFresh benefits are calculated. However, the methodology used to calculate benefits has historically been flawed. Prior to the update, the TFP was inconsistent with the most recent dietary recommendations and the economic realities faced by most households.  

Why was the Thrifty Food Plan updated?

Previous to this update, the TFP did not reflect current nutritional guidelines and had not been updated for inflation since the 1970s! As a result, benefits fell short of what many people need to afford a healthy diet. Recognizing this, Congress directed the United States Department of Agriculture in the 2018 Farm Bill to re-evaluate the TFP by 2022 and every five years thereafter.

Why This Matters to California

Modernizing the TFP will help 4.4 million Californians who rely on CalFresh to try to make ends meet. Updating the TFP will help reduce food insecurity and improve health while supporting our local economies. The resulting increase in benefit levels will be meaningful but modest. The maximum benefit will increase by 21 percent raising the average benefit from about $4.25 per person per day to about $5.45 per person per day in 2022. 

When Will the Update Go Into Effect? 

The increase will begin October 1, 2021  – excluding additional funds provided as part of pandemic relief that will expire September 30, 2021. 

Where Can I Learn More About the Change?