Low-poverty ZIP codes need food help, too

Although low-poverty ZIP codes account for less than 5% of 2-1-1 requests for food assistance, they have risen faster and declined more slowly than calls from ZIP codes with much higher levels of poverty. We examined food requests over three time periods – pre-COVID, early post-COVID, and late post-COVID – from three categories of ZIP codes: high poverty, mid poverty, and low poverty. Low-poverty ZIP codes had the largest pre- to post-COVID increases in requests for food assistance (+319%), and the slowest decline from the early- to late-post COVID period (-21%). Requests from mid- and high-poverty counties declined twice as much during the same time period. Mouse over the chart below to see requests and rate of change over time. Findings suggest that populations previously less likely to need or use 2-1-1 referrals for food are doing so with increasing frequency in the aftermath of COVID. Pre-COVID dates are January 1 – March 11; early post-COVID dates are March 12 – April 15; late post-COVID dates are April 16 – May 19. Low-poverty ZIP codes are those with <5% population at or below poverty level; mid-poverty is 5-25% in poverty, and high poverty is ≥ 25% in poverty. Analyses included all food-related requests from all or parts of 29 states (AL, AR, CA, CT, DE, FL, HI, IA, IL, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, NE, NJ, NV, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA, WA, WI, WY).

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