The Biden administration will announce Monday that it has revised the Thrifty Food Plan that sets nutrition standards for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and that average benefits will rise more than 25% compared to pre-pandemic levels.
The increase in benefits would begin in October, the New York Times reported Sunday.
The increase will be the largest in the history of the food stamp program and will add $20 billion per year to the cost. SNAP accounts for about $68.2 billion of USDA's budget for FY 2021, or about 45% of USDA's total budget.
The move will boost food aid about $36 a month per person in the program. About 42 million people receive SNAP benefits.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the New York Times the program helps "stabilize our democracy."
"We may have a Constitution and a Declaration of Independence, but if we had 42 million Americans who were going hungry, really hungry, they wouldn't be happy and there would be political instability," Vilsack said.
In apparent anticipation of the increase, Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member John Boozman, R-Ark., and House Agriculture ranking member Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Pa., asked the Government Accountability Office to analyze USDA's update of the Thrifty Food Plan.
In a letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, the Republican agriculture leaders wrote, "The complexity of this process, and its likely impacts, create an urgent need for scrutiny, particularly on the heels of significant nutrition-related pandemic spending that has continued without rigorous oversight."
"Without question, this review and update will have obvious and considerable impacts on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). While we expect this process will elicit an increase to the cost of the thrifty food plan -- and subsequently monthly SNAP allotments -- questions remain as to how the Department has gone about this review and update, including their methodologies, administrative practices, and legal authorities."
The Republicans laid out 11 questions they would like the GAO to answer or provide details on USDA's process to change benefits in the program.
-The New York Times -- Biden Administration Prompts Largest Permanent Increase in Food Stamps https://www.nytimes.com/…
- Sen. Boozman/Rep. Thompson letter to Government Accountability Office: https://republicans-agriculture.house.gov/…
DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton contributed to this report.
Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport
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