At-home schooling drives food needs higher in Seattle

As summer drew to a close and students in King County, Washington prepared to start the school year at home, food needs grew steadily. Up to 30,000 students who would have received free or reduced-price lunches at school would not be receiving them, at least in the usual way. Requests to 2-1-1 for help buying food averaged 29 per day in King County from August 24th to October 5th, an increase of 80% compared to the prior six weeks (see chart). To help assure that affected students get the food they need during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington Department of Social and Health Services launched an emergency food benefit program, Pandemic EBT, and partnered with 2-1-1 to help eligible families complete the program application. Program demand during a brief enrollment period through September 11th helped drive food requests higher. The chart shows daily requests for help buying food from January 1 to October 5, 2020. Mouse over each bar to see the number of requests on that day. Average daily requests were calculated using current and six prior days, excluding holidays and weekends.

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