by Jessica Dietrich, Policy & Government Relations Manager
USDA updates the Thrifty Food Plan, the basis for SNAP benefits
Last week, the USDA made the first significant updates to the Thrifty Food Plan since 1975. The update, originally directed through the 2018 Farm Bill, takes effect October 2021. The Thrifty Food Plan, which serves as the basis for SNAP benefit levels, is the lowest cost of the four food plans the USDA develops that estimate the cost of a healthy diet. It represents the cost of a nutritious, practical, cost-effective diet prepared at home for a family of four, which is defined in law as an adult male and female, ages 20-50, and two children, ages 6-8 and 9-11.
The update to the Thrifty Food Plan leads to a more than 25 percent increase in benefit amounts for Oklahoma SNAP participants, a long overdue increase needed to more accurately reflect the costs incurred by low-income families trying to meet their nutritional needs. Though this updated policy is significant, it is important to recognize that this change is still very modest for the more than 500,000 Oklahomans trying to make ends meet. The average SNAP benefit in Oklahoma is about $1.30 per person per meal when emergency pandemic programs are not in place. This adjustment to the Thrifty Food Plan will raise benefits to an average of approximately $1.62 per person per meal.
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) state funds update
The Oklahoma Joint Committee on Pandemic Funding (OJCPF) met last month to discuss plans for distributing the state-level ARPA funds. The OJCPF is currently developing a strategic plan that will identify funding priorities and it is expected to be complete by the end of August. Proposals can be submitted to the OJCPF through a process that will be outlined in September. Those proposals will likely be referred to one of four subcommittees:
- Economic development, co-chairs are Senator Pugh and Representative Baker
- Health and human services, co-chairs are Senator Haste and Representative Hilbert
- Transportation and infrastructure, co-chairs are Senator Leewright and Representative Phillips
- Government transformation and collaboration, co-chairs are Senator Hall and Representative Boatman
Keep an eye out for more on the OJCPF process in future updates.
Interim studies begin
Last month, House Speaker Charles McCall and President Pro Tempore Greg Treat approved a total of 184 interim study requests. Interim studies begin this month and will continue through October. Though no formal action will be taken immediately, many of these interim studies will likely lead to legislation during the 2022 legislative session.
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