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

Sources: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlansCostofFood

http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_plans_cost_of_food/FoodPlans1999ThriftyFoodPlanAdminReport.pdf

https://www.azdes.gov/main.aspx?menu=355&id=5202

http://www.nutrition.tufts.edu/research/thrifty-food-plan-calculator

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/page/usdas-low-cost-food-plan

Nourish to Flourish


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Source: http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442478348

An Exhaustive List of Food Assistance Programs


800px-USDA_logo_svgAn Exhaustive List of Food Assistance Programs

A brochure put together by the USDA that provides a comprehensive explanation of all the programs available for American Indians, children, infants, elderly and/or whole families!

SNAP Challenge


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By: Nikki Nies

I recently went to a seminar on food sustainability and security and these seminars never cease to provide me new angles, perspectives on the status of our food and ideas for blog posts! So, thank you dietetic seminars!marianhd_snap_infographic1

Okay, so today, I’m hear to not convince you to take the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Challenge,  but to help you become more open to the idea of becoming more aware of how much you’re spending on food and perhaps start questioning if you really need to be spending as much as you can.

The SNAP challenge is intended to help provide better insight into how many low income Americans live on a daily basis.  By accepting the SNAP Challenge, you are committed to consuming all of your meals and beverages for one week at a similar budget of a SNAP recipient–$1.50 per meal.  While tempting, try your best to avoid free food from friends, coworkers and family members.

By keeping the rest of the your social media followers updated on the status of your Challenge, the following are some prompts on what to tweet, update or take pictures of during the following week:

DAY

PROMPT

1

How did your shopping cart look compared to a normal week? What choices did you have to make about the types of food you could afford, where you shopped, or the nutritional quality and variety of food?

2

What have you cut out of your routine to stay on budget (e.g. COFFEE)?

3

How would this experience be different if your spouse and children were also eating off a limited food budget for the week?

4

How has eating on a limited budget impacted your mood? Your concentration? How has that impacted your interaction with family and coworkers?

5

Are you worried about your groceries running out before the end of the Challenge? Do you feel you are you eating a healthy, balanced diet? What nutrition decisions did you have to make?

6

We know that low-income Americans have to make choices between groceries, prescriptions, gas for the car, utilities, and other household necessities. After living on a limited food budget this week, how has your perspective changed about the decisions families facing hunger must make?

7

In November 2013, the government will cut SNAP benefits for all recipients. These cuts will be $36 for a family of four – dropping the average benefit per person per meal to under $1.40.  How would this week have been different for you if you had even less money to spend on food?

I understand each family is different, with different needs and preferences, yet this challenge can be done by any one and every one.  I hope you’ll keep this challenge in the back of your mind when next time you’re planning family meals or trying to find ways to creative ways to cut your budget.  Good luck!

Sources: http://feedingamerica.org/get-involved/hunger-action-month/snap-challenge.aspx

http://learn.uvm.edu/foodsystemsblog/2012/10/17/what-the-snap-challenge-taught-me/

http://hungryquebbie.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/snap-day-1/

SNAP


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By: Nikki Nies

America’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides assistance to eligible, low income people and families to purchase food for better health.  Previously known as Food Stamps,SNAP is the largest assistance program fighting domestic hunger, it works collaboratively with state agencies, nutrition educators and local organizations to provide the best access to SNAP’s benefits.

imgresThe Pre-Screening Eligibility Tool can be access online to quickly find out if you qualify for SNAP benefits.  The tool can be accessed at: http://www.snap-step1.usda.gov/fns/ . The tool takes into account resources, income, deduction, employment requirements, immigrant eligibility and special rules for elderly and disabled.  Benefits vary state to state, find out when your state offers benefits on the USDA’s SNAP website.

Specific foods that can be purchased include breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, bottled water, poultry and dairy products.  In addition, seeds and plants can be purchased.  SNAP does not allow the purchase of baby diapers and wipes, beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, tobacco,hot foods, pet foods, nonfood items (i.e. soap, paper products, household supplies, vitamins and medicines).

The monthly SNAP benefit amount is dependent on number of people within household, monthly income available to meet needs after deductions from gross income.

To apply for SNAP benefits, find your local office at http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/outreach/map.htm .

Sources: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap

http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=30357

Floyd Farmers Market SNAP Program

Food Insecurity


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By: Nikki Nies

One doesn’t have to look too far to see the disparity in available resources and food around the world.  Food insecurity doesn’t discriminate, straining families living in cities and the suburbs alike.  With 1/10 children living in a food desert, where fresh produce are not readily available and poverty rates increasing 40% from 2001 to 2011, food insecurity is not going away anytime soon.

food-insecurity-stats.jpg.492x0_q85_crop-smartFood security requires looking at someone’s physical and economic access to resources.  Long term food insecurity can lead to increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease;malnutrition; increases aggression, stress and anxiety; foodborne diarrhea and  impaired brain, social and physical development.

While ensuring food pantries are fully stocked to provide for those depending on the food is one of the many goals to ensure food security, other solutions need to be kept in mind. Such as:

  • Work with community developments to build supermarkets that offer affordably priced fruits and vegetables
  • Help nonprofits build and maintain community gardens
  • Bring farmer’s markets to urban areas
  • Develop relationships with organizations that support families in critical conditions

For a city, town, state, village, province  or nation to be defined as food secure, when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”.

Small changes can really make a difference and by people banding together to be advocates for better and more available resources, change can occur.

Sources: http://greatist.com/health/food-insecurity-gallup-poll-091613

http://feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/impact-of-hunger.aspx

http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us.aspx#.Utr3aGTnajk

http://www.treehugger.com/health/food-insecurity-rise-infographic.html

http://www.thewestonforum.com/15959/commentary-hunger-lives-here-report-food-insecurity-is-growing/

http://candychang.com/food-insecurity-poster/

http://www.who.int/trade/glossary/story028/en/

$4.50/Day


Original Image by Mike Mozart via Flickr
Original Image by Mike Mozart via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

This article came to my attention and the “experiment” provides saddening information.  The CEO of Panera Bread, Mr. Ron Shaich is currently sustaining himself on $4.50/day for the week.

Why $4.50 you ask?  That’s the amount allotted to those eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  With only $31.50 for the week, it’s been a humbling experience for Mr. Shaich, as he can’t even afford his own Panera bread dishes if he wanted to.  What has he been eating? He had dry cereal and water for breakfast and then chickpea soup for lunch and dinner.

Mr. Shaich admitted: “It’s very hard to eat well. Money really provides choices.” 3fab80133e798b6510bca6446bbcccdb

Panera Bread has made taken the initiative and has opened 5 Panera Cares Community Cafes  where people can pay whatever they can for the meal.  I’m glad to see Mr. Shaich took on this experiment and is able to see the harsh reality that 1/6 Americans experience on a regular basis.

My intention isn’t to downplay SNAP’s generosity, but shed more light on the aspects of national hunger that could use improvement.  I’m not sure what the solution is, but by providing awareness of what’s the root cause of the issue is.

Source: http://www.examiner.com/article/obamacare-no-big-deal-says-panera-bread-ceo