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FIGURE 3-3 Loss-adjusted per capita food availability compared with dietary recommendations.
NOTE: Data for 2005 based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
SOURCE: Wells and Buzby, 2008. USDA, ERS Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System.

participants purchase food, and the types of food purchased by low-income and SNAP populations.

Overall Expenditures

The origin of the federal poverty measure is Statistical Policy Directive No. 14, developed in 1968 and revised in 1969 and 1981 (OMB, 2012). As discussed in Chapter 2, the basis of the poverty measure is USDA’s economy food plan, which was derived from a 1955 Survey of Food Consumption. This survey found that the average American household spent about one-third (30 percent) of its income on food (U.S. Census Bureau, 1982). The 30 percent figure, however, has been criticized as no longer being relevant to expenditure patterns among U.S. households; the implication for SNAP participants is that they cannot supplement their benefit with the income amount assumed by this figure.

Castner and Mabli (2010) used data from the 2005 Consumer Expenditure Survey to examine the allocation of resources (including SNAP benefits) for household expenditures (including food) across various consumption categories for SNAP, SNAP-eligible but not participating, and SNAP-ineligible groups. They found that SNAP households allocate about 22 percent of their total household expenditures for food consumed at home, compared with 18 percent for SNAP-eligible but not participating households. SNAP households use a greater proportion of their total



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