Low-income Americans whose health, age or disability makes it difficult to prepare their own meals or travel to places that serve meals are sometimes eligible for home-delivered meals. Meals-on-Wheels is a well-known example of a home-delivered meal program. Some people call 2-1-1 to get help getting connecting to home-delivered meal programs. Because of the highly specific populations these programs serve, requests to 2-1-1 for home-delivered meals programs are fairly uncommon. Most 2-1-1s average only 1-2 requests per day. But during March 12-18, 2020, the first full week after the coronavirus was designated a pandemic, requests for home-delivered meals increased dramatically compared to the same week in 2019. Requests increased in all but one state we examined.
We also examined requests for home-delivered meals in four cities not served by a statewide 2-1-1 helpline: Miami, Orlando, Nashville and Sacramento. Each experienced at least a 3-fold increase in requests for home-delivered meal programs during the week of March 12-18, 2020 compared to the same week in 2019.