USDA Thrifty Food Program

FoodPlans_LandingPageBy: Nikki Nies

The USDA Thrifty Food Program (TFP) may not be as well known as the Food Stamp program, but it is a critical aspect of the four part (Thrifty, Low-Cost, Moderate-Cost, and Liberal) USDA food plan that is the framework of the allocated Food Stamp benefits. Of the four food plans, TFP is the least expensive and is calculated on a monthly basis using data collected from the Consumer Price Index.

The monthly cost used for TFP represents a national average of expenditures-deriving from the traditional four person household, composed of an adult couple and two school aged children, which is adjusted to reflect economies of scales. TFP is priced every June, with a set maximum benefit level for the following October.  TFP represents a healthful way to utilize one’s Food Stamp benefits on a modest budget.

The TFP calculator is used to learn about the tradeoffs between nutrition costs of food and quality. The calculator is a tool that helps USDA nutritionists and economists develop the TFP.  The maximum benefit awarded in the Food Stamp Program is based on the cost of TFP which takes in consideration trends in food prices, characteristics and consumer spending behavior. A mathematical algorithm is used to decide how much is awarded to recipients. Don’t worry, families don’t have to know how to calculate their awarded benefits to receive the benefits!

Yet, the above information is interesting to note, especially if you are curious about how the amount one’s awards for food stamps is curated.

Photo Credit: USDA


Click to access FoodPlans1999ThriftyFoodPlanAdminReport.pdf

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