Based on the available evidence, it is feasible to define objectively the adequacy of SNAP allotments. Doing so entails identifying the factors that affect the ability of participants to attain food security and access to a healthy diet. The committee’s review of the evidence found that it is possible to identify those factors, and the committee has done so in its framework and in the following two conclusions and the findings that support them. The available evidence has some limitations, but it is possible to obtain the evidence needed for a science-driven definition of allotment adequacy. First, evidence must be taken into account on the degree to which specific individual, household, and environmental factors influence SNAP participants’ purchasing power, given a dollar value of their SNAP benefits. Second, evidence must take into account the impact of factors related to the computation of the dollar value of the SNAP allotment itself, as well as other SNAP program characteristics.
Conclusion 2: The Adequacy of SNAP Allotments Is Influenced
by Individual, Household, and Environmental Factors
Evidence obtained by the committee in its data gathering workshop and in its review and assessment of the literature revealed that the opportunity 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 allotment’s 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 Thrifty Food Plan (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 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