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Lawmakers To Study On SNAP Benefits

U.S. Senators and representatives are working on SNAP benefits study and updating the way it calculates SNAP benefits.

January 20, 2024

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz and U.S. Representative Jill Tokuda all praise the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding its plans to review and update the way it calculates Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in Hawaii.

Schatz said, “For many in Hawaii, SNAP is a lifeline, helping families put food on the table. But to make sure this program continues to help those who rely on it, SNAP benefits need to keep up with the real cost of food across the state. I thank the USDA and Secretary Vilsack for working with us to update SNAP benefits for Hawaii so that those who need it can continue to access this critical federal program.”

From March 4, the Department is asking stakeholders for feedback regarding the cost of food and how SNAP can serve local communities.

The data will be used by USDA to collect, propose and finalize a new rule to ensure benefits take into account food costs for residents across the state following the initial information-gathering phase to collect information.

Around 200,000 residents in Hawaii depend on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), a federal initiative that offers food-purchase benefits to low-income families and individuals. While the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service manages SNAP at the federal level, the Hawaii Department of Human Services oversees it at the state level.

However, as highlighted by Tokuda, the USDA bases its evaluation of Hawaii’s Thrifty Food Plan, which sets the state’s maximum SNAP benefit, only on food-cost data from the City and County of Honolulu. This approach fails to consider the higher food costs in Hawaii’s other counties.

Tokuda also introduced legislation to separate thrifty food plan study in Hawaii between urban and rural communities in July.

Representative Jill Tokuda said, “I am pleased that the USDA recognizes the gross miscalculation that has been occurring in only considering food costs in Honolulu. It has been unacceptable to me that SNAP benefits for Hawaii have been calculated in a way that ignores every island other than Oahu which is contributing to a reduction of SNAP benefits for Hawaii families. When I fly throughout my district, I walk through grocery store aisles and see the higher prices and often empty shelves. Our ohana in the Second Congressional District deserve better, and I encourage the local food industry and research community to participate in the USDA’s Request for Information and submit comments on the price of food across our state.”

The public is requested to submit comments to the USDA online via the portal. The public can also submit comments via mail.

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Tsai Michael. “Lawmakers Laud SNAP Benefits Study”. Spectrum Local News, January 20, 2024,
Lawmakers laud SNAP benefits study (

Last Updated: September 20, 2021