Economic Equity and the Food Stamp Program
The Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) is used to estimate the household food cost used for determining benefits for participants in the food stamp program. Dietary norms and requirements for macro and micronutrients are reflected in the TFP. Because the TFP is important in calculating benefit levels for FSP participants, it has received broad attention in policy debate. The present analysis shows that household food costs quite similar to those from the TFP can be calculated directly from available USDA Nationwide Food Consumption Survey data. The method developed and applied is simpler and more specialized to household by size and composition than the TFP. Also, it does not use dietary requirements. The new approach has a sound foundation in economics and could result in a more equitable distribution of food stamp program benefits.