• Nutrition education programs for low-income participants that include training in food purchasing and preparation skills appear to have some effectiveness in changing behavioral outcomes. This finding lends credence to the theory that skills are a limiting factor in the ability of some SNAP participants to maximize the purchasing power of the current SNAP allotments. However, existing evidence on the influence of nutrition knowledge and skills on the ability of SNAP participants to purchase and prepare nutritious foods consistent with the assumptions of the TFP is insufficient to support a conclusion about the relevance of these factors to an evidence-based definition of the adequacy of SNAP allotments.
Conclusion 3: The Adequacy of SNAP Allotments
Is Influenced by Program Characteristics
The evidence suggests that a number of factors related to how the dollar value of SNAP allotments is calculated, as well as other SNAP program characteristics, can influence the feasibility of defining an adequate SNAP allotment. The evidence supports the conclusion that the maximum benefit, the benefit reduction rate, and the net income calculation have important impacts on the definition of the adequacy of SNAP allotments.
• Maximum benefit guarantee—The maximum SNAP benefit, currently based on assumptions of the TFP plus the temporary upward adjustment that occurred under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, may not always be sufficient to allow participants to purchase the food components and prepare the meals specified by the TFP for several reasons. As noted above, the time available for most households at all income levels, particularly those with a single working head, is insufficient to meet the assumptions of the TFP, and thus the allotments do not sufficiently account for the costs of purchasing foods that must be further prepared. Also as noted above, the TFP does not account for many types of geographic price variation. In addition, limited evidence suggests that some SNAP households with no net income as defined under the program and residing in high-cost locales with limited access to food outlets are unable to purchase the foods included in the market basket underlying the TFP. Although the committee found compelling evidence on the time costs of meal preparation and on geographic price variations, the evidence on how best to