USDA Food Plans Rapid Reviews and Evidence Scans
The USDA develops four USDA Food Plans (the Thrifty, Low-Cost, Moderate-Cost, and Liberal Food Plans), each of which shows how a nutritious diet may be achieved at various cost levels.
The Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) serves as the basis for the maximum allotment for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. The 2018 Farm Bill mandated an update to the TFP market baskets by 2022 and every five years thereafter to reflect “current prices, composition data, consumption patterns, and dietary guidance”. To meet this mandate, the Thrifty Food Plan, 2021 has been reevaluated using a rigorous scientific process. USDA’s Nutrition Evidence Systematic Review (NESR) team completed a series of rapid reviews and evidence scans on the topics of income, cost, time, and convenience of food as a source of information to support this process.
The staff at NESR specializes in conducting food- and nutrition-related systematic reviews and evidence syntheses. The NESR staff collaborated with USDA’s CNPP Nutrition and Economic Analysis Team (NEAT), who conduct the analyses to develop the USDA Food Plans, to complete a series of rapid reviews and evidence scans to address the following research questions:
- Rapid Review: What is the relationship between income and prices for food items/baskets?
- Rapid Review: What is the relationship between income or Federal Assistance participation/eligibility and following a dietary pattern that aligns with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as measured by the Healthy Eating Index (HEI)?
- Rapid Review: What is the relationship between overall diet cost and following a dietary pattern that aligns with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as measured by the Healthy Eating Index (HEI)?
- Rapid Review: What is the relationship between income and time spent on food-at-home-related activities?
- Evidence Scan: What factors influence the purchase and/or consumption of at-home convenience foods? How are these foods described in the literature?
A detailed description of the methodology used to complete these rapid reviews and evidence scans can be found at the link below.
The NESR team are scientists from the USDA’s CNPP who have expertise in systematic review methodology and in nutrition science, dietetics, and public health. Members of CNPP’s NEAT collaborated on the protocol elements to ensure the reviews were relevant to the needs of the Thrifty Food Plan, 2021 process. In addition, members of USDA’s Economic Research Service were consulted and advised search strategies. A list of the staff who supported this work can be found at the link below.