for SNAP participants to meet the program goals, given a dollar value of their SNAP benefits, is influenced by a number of individual, household, and environmental factors that impact the purchasing power of the allotments. The committee found that a definition of the adequacy of SNAP allotments must account for these factors according to the magnitude and significance of their influence on the allotments’ purchasing power. Although SNAP allotments might be adequate in the absence of these factors, the evidence suggests that these factors can act as barriers to obtaining nutritious foods and preparing nutritious meals consistent with the assumptions of the TFP. The evidence on individual, household, and environmental factors that constrain the purchasing power of SNAP allotments is most robust for four factors:
• The SNAP allotment, which is based on the TFP, assumes the purchase of many basic, inexpensive, unprocessed foods and ingredients requiring substantial investment of the participants’ time to produce nutritious meals. The evidence shows that the time requirements implicitly assumed by the TFP are inconsistent with the time available for most households at all income levels, particularly those with a single working head. By failing to account for the fact that SNAP participants, like other households, need to purchase value-added foods that save preparation time, the current value of the SNAP allotment substantially limits the flexibility and purchasing power of SNAP benefits.
• The food prices faced by SNAP participants vary substantially across geographic regions of the country and between rural and urban areas. However, SNAP benefits are adjusted only for Alaska and Hawaii. SNAP participants in locales with higher food prices are likely to find it more difficult than those in areas with lower prices to purchase the types and amounts of foods specified in the TFP as adequate to meet their needs for a nutritious diet. The evidence points further to a lack of data on the extent to which food prices influence the ability of SNAP participants to purchase nutritious foods.
• There is evidence that low-income households face higher transaction costs in achieving food security and access to a healthy diet relative to higher-income households. For example, low-income and minority populations are more likely than other groups to experience limited access to supermarkets and other large retail outlets, such as big-box stores, that offer a broad range of healthy foods at reasonable cost. Individuals without access to such venues experience greater disparity in the availability of healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, in their neighborhood food