Research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and others has shown that food prices in the U.S. vary widely, yet food stamp benefits are the same throughout the country. To examine the impact of local prices on the food-buying power of food stamp recipients, a market basket based on the USDA's Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), upon which food stamp allotments are based, was priced in selected areas of New York State in late May–June and late September–October of 1989. In both survey periods, the mean market basket costs in supermarkets varied from 93% of the current USDA TFP cost in an upstate urban county (Onondaga County), to near 96% of the USDA cost in rural Tioga County, to near 104% in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City. Costs in smaller stores ranged from 107 to 111% of the USDA TFP cost. In June 1989, a household receiving the maximum food stamp allotment would fall from 4 to about 12% short of the resources needed to buy the market basket in the supermarkets sampled in Tioga County and Brooklyn, and at least 17% short in the smaller stores in all three areas. Results indicate that in New York State, local food costs higher than national average costs can contribute to food insecurity. Recommendations are made regarding policies to improve the food security of low income consumers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health