Food needs soar, Monroe County (NY) responds

May 17, 2020

In a new analysis of more than 1,500 U.S. counties, Monroe County, NY stands above the rest in responding to COVID-related food needs. Its 2-1-1/LIFE LINE Program has seen a whopping 1455% increase in food pantry requests from pre- to post-COVID-19, jumping from about 8 requests per day before the pandemic to over 131 requests daily since then. Deborah Turner, Program Director at 2-1-1/LIFE LINE, says there has been a dramatic increase in food needs in the County, but much of the higher call volume is from partnerships meant to streamline the food distribution process. “Working with Foodlink we have pre-registered over 3,000 community members by phone for drive-through food pick-up, and we use the Unite Us system to complete intake forms for vulnerable individuals who need food delivery. Social media has been great in pointing people to 2-1-1 as the front door for these services.” Monroe County’s coordinated community approach makes it possible to meet the food needs of more people, faster, safely and efficiently. The ZIP code maps below show that per capita food requests in Monroe County vary greatly by ZIP code (at left), but that ZIP codes with lower per capita rates have the greatest post-COVID increases (at right). Mouse over each ZIP to see the number of requests pre- and post-COVID and the percentage increase. Data show requests for food panties only. Pre-COVID dates are January 1 – March 11, 2020 and post-COVID dates are March 12 – May 17, 2020.

Contributors: Rachel Garg, Balaji Golla, Irum Javed, Matthew Kreuter