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Does SNAP Cover the Cost of a Meal in Your County? - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Does SNAP Cover the Cost of a Meal in Your County?

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COLORADO SPRINGS -

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides monthly food budget assistance to more than 42-million eligible, low-income people in the United States. According to a study by the Urban Institute, even the maximum SNAP benefit falls short of low-income meal costs in 99-percent of U.S. counties.

Low income residents in El Paso County that qualify for the maximum SNAP benefit, are receiving $1.86 per meal. The average cost of a meal in El Paso County is roughly $2.36. In Pueblo County, the estimate for the cost of a meal is $2.27.

The cost of a meal varies from county to county across Colorado. Routt and Summit Counties carry the highest cost at $3.16 and $3.13 a meal, with Baca County being the lowest at $2.10 per meal.

The amount of SNAP benefits each person or family receives depends on such factors as household size, income level, and expense deductions that may lower the income used to determine the benefit amount.

Where do these numbers come from? The Urban Institute uses the Current Population Survey, which asks people to estimate the amount they spend on food each week. They chose to restrict the responses to individuals in households with incomes at or below 130-percent of the federal poverty level, which is roughly equivalent to the SNAP eligibility threshold for gross income before deductions.

They also used responses from people who are “food secure” based on their answers to certain questions in the survey. The reasoning is that “food insecure” families are likely under-spending on food because of limited resources. They divided weekly food expenditures for respondents by the typical number of meals we expect people consume in a week.

The Institute used the national per meal cost for the relative prices paid for the Thrifty Food Plan market basket in each county in the U.S. The Thrifty Food Plan is a “minimal-cost” nutritionally adequate food plan developed by US Department of Agriculture that is used to determine monthly SNAP benefit allotments.

For more information on the cost of a meal in Colorado, click here: https://www.urban.org/does-snap-cover-cost-meal-your-county

This project is part of the Urban Institute's "From Safety Net to Solid Ground initiative." 

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