Trends of top 3 food needs during COVID

August 7, 2020

The impact of COVID-19 on food needs of Americans has been profound but has varied by type of need.  We examined 447,606 requests to 2-1-1 for food pantries, home-delivered meals and help buying food between January 1 and August 6, 2020. Requests to 2-1-1s for food pantries and home-delivered meals both saw dramatic increases in the earliest phases of the pandemic. However, food pantry requests began declining almost immediately, while requests for home-delivered meals remained at their peak level for nearly two months before declining.  In contrast to both, requests for help buying food  – which are primarily applications to SNAP – rose sharply and have remained largely steady at elevated levels. Hover over the bars in the charts below to see the number of requests each day. COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020, indicated in purple in the charts below. Analyses include 2-1-1s in all or parts of 32 states that participate in a daily tracking system: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CT, DE, FL, HI, IA, IL, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, NE, NJ, NV, NY, OH, PA, SC, SD, TN, VA, WA, WI and WY.

Contributors: Cindy Charles, Rachel Garg, Balaji Golla, Matthew Kreuter