The U.S. Department of Agriculture delivered a huge victory for food equity on Monday, announcing it would be changing the way SNAP benefits are calculated, resulting in the largest increase in benefits in the program’s history.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides food assistance to 42 million people nationwide. Studies show marginalized Americans are more likely to live with food insecurity and to rely on SNAP benefits.
For example, roughly 13 percent of LGBTQ adults experience food insecurity—more than twice the rate of non-LGBTQ adults, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. A large portion of SNAP recipients are people of color, disabled, or living below the poverty line.
According to the New York Times, under the new rules, a family receiving $121 per person before the pandemic will now receive $157. The expansion is permanent and does not require congressional approval.
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The Times reported:
In technical terms, the Agriculture Department has revised the Thrifty Food Plan, a list of two dozen food groups the government uses to estimate the cost of an economical, nutritious diet. Its value was first set in 1962 and, other than being adjusted for inflation, had not grown since then, despite a revolution in what Americans eat.
“A modernized Thrifty Food Plan is more than a commitment to good nutrition—it’s an investment in our nation’s health, economy, and security,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.
The new guidelines have been updated to reflect changing nutritional recommendations, and to “reflect the true cost of a basic healthy diet,” as President Joe Biden told the USDA back in January.
With growing uncertainty about the COVID-19 delta variant as schools and workplaces reopen, the increase to SNAP benefits, which is set to go into effect October 1, couldn’t come at a better time.
Food equity is reproductive justice. Ensuring everyone has access to basic necessities is a key tenet of reproductive justice because without those things, self-determination and autonomy are not possible.
This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.