The Cost and Availability of the Thrifty Food Plan in Southeast Louisiana
Low-income individuals in Southeast Louisiana consume poor quality diets and have high rates of nutrition-related health problems such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and obesity. The United States Department of Agriculture created the Thrifty Food Plan to help food stamp recipients consume a minimal cost, nutritious diet. It is unknown whether the food lists designed to support the Thrifty Food Plan are affordable and available to the food stamp reliant population in Southeast Louisiana. In 29 supermarkets and large grocery stores located in East Baton Rouge Parish and seven surrounding parishes, the cost and availability of two weekly food lists from the Thrifty Food Plan were determined. The average cost of the foods was $117.01±11.79 (mean ± standard deviation) for week one and $112.19±11.44 for week two. These average costs were 54% and 47% more than the average food stamp benefits received, respectively. Only, 7 of the 29 stores (24%) carried all 86 items. The menu items most frequently missing were pearl barley, garbanzo beans, ground pork, zucchini, and ground turkey. The average cost of the food lists at the stores located in areas with lower median household incomes was $116.36±9.93. The average cost at the stores located in areas with higher median household incomes was $113.67±12.38. These average costs were not significantly different. Average costs were not significantly different between stores located in lower poverty areas and higher poverty areas and between chain and non-chain stores. The data show that the Thrifty Food Plan is not affordable to those households receiving the average food stamp allotment. Therefore, food stamp allotments should be increased. Further, the Thrifty Food Plan has not been revised since 1999 and does not meet current nutrition recommendations. The TFP should be updated to meet current dietary recommendations.
Advisor:Pamela A. Monroe; Kevin S. McCarter; Carol E. O'Neil
School:Louisiana State University in Shreveport
School Location:USA - Louisiana
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:11/13/2006