Applying Racial Equity to U.S. Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs - Flipbook - Page 19
Increasing the benefit can also help increase people’s consumption of
DID YOU KNOW THAT…
healthier foods, notably vegetables and sources of protein, since healthier
foods are more expensive.
On or near reservations, which are more likely to be areas of concentrated
Alaskan Natives could spend
poverty (see glossary), food prices are typically quite high, due primarily
up to $25 for a gallon of milk,
to the cost of transporting food to rural areas. A study conducted by First
compared to the national
Nations found that on average, Indigenous communities spend significantly
average of $3.25?
more to purchase food in every category, including dairy, bread, meat, and
fruit.58 Read more about this in Appendix 9. This finding was confirmed
through interviews with Indigenous communities, during which some people reported prices such as $14 for a pound of apples
at the nearest grocery store, an hour away from the reservation.
Current SNAP benefit amounts are based on the Thrifty Food Plan, which assumes that SNAP recipients have 1.5-2.5 hours
daily (roughly 9 to 17 hours every week) to prepare meals—plus the time needed to shop for food.59 Using the reference Recipes
and Tips for Healthy, Thrifty Meals,60 it took a USDA researcher 2.5 hours a day, or more than 17 hours a week, to prepare the
suggested menus.61 In another study, a researcher needed about 80 minutes a day or just over 9 hours a week.62 It is unrealistic
to use either time estimate; SNAP participants, like people in other U.S. households, have about 40 minutes a day available to
cook.63 Increased monthly SNAP benefits would allow families to purchase healthier
foods, foods that require less time to prepare, and, most importantly, additional food
“The Thrifty Food Plan
so that both children and adults have enough to eat the last week of the month.
assumes that SNAP
Amending SNAP rules to permit the purchase of some prepared foods at
recipients have 9-17 hrs.
grocery stores, such as rotisserie chicken and pre-made salads, could help ease
participants’ time constraints and improve healthy eating options, with more fresh
each week to prepare
foods included. It could also help manage costs—for example, reducing the need to
meals, not including
buy salad ingredients, condiments, or other foods in larger quantities that may be
time to shop for food.”
difficult to incorporate into later meals while they are still fresh.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a $30 per person increase
in monthly SNAP benefits would raise food purchases by $19 a month per person, improve consumption of nutritious foods such
as vegetables and protein sources, and increase the time households spend shopping and preparing food.64 It is unclear whether
this would be a large enough increase for families to buy enough healthy food to last the entire month. In the same study, food
insecure families reported that they need an additional $50 to $85 per person per month to purchase enough healthy food.65
• Increase the monthly benefit per person to reflect needs.
USDA should conduct research to determine the benefit levels that the poorest households (especially by asset amount
and race), need in order to buy nutritious food throughout the month. The benefit level should also take into account the
time limitations and realities explained above. To these points, USDA should increase SNAP benefits from the cost of the
Thrifty Food Plan to the cost of the Moderate Food Plan.66 Based on the research findings and moderate food plan, food
insecure households should receive a larger allotment per meal (including when school-age children are home, such as on the
weekends and during school breaks), in order to help improve the quality
of meals and ensure that households do not routinely run out of grocery
DID YOU KNOW THAT…
money. Since households of color have the fewest assets to fall back on to
avoid facing deeper levels of hunger due to the racial wealth divide, Congress
Households of color have
should authorize changing the SNAP benefits formula to provide additional
significantly less savings to
support to households with the lowest levels of assets. This targeted approach
turn to when monthly benefits
will ensure that households of color receive the support they need.
run out, because of the racial
Food prices are generally higher for SNAP participants who live in or near
wealth divide? To learn more
reservations or in rural or urban food deserts. SNAP benefit formulas
about this, see Appendix 21 or
should take into account the fact that many families must rely on corner
visit bread.org/simulation to go
stores or travel long distances to the nearest grocery store, both of which
through the Racial Wealth Gap
are likely to have higher prices and fewer options. As shown in Figure 2,
communities of color are more likely to live in high poverty areas that
include food deserts.
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