What 211s and crisis hotlines tell us about community needs

When people need help feeding their families, they may be less likely to prioritize other needs such as mental health. We tracked requests for both needs before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and found that when requests for food assistance increase, mental health requests decline. We examined 140,754 phone requests for food and 365,146 phone […]

Feeding Tennessee

Food needs nearly doubled in the first year of COVID-19 across the U.S., but not in Tennessee. Why? The difference could be due to local efforts that began almost immediately when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

Year 1 of COVID-19: Needs rise 59%

Over a full year of COVID-19, requests to 211 jumped 59%, led by needs for food and housing assistance. Requests for food assistance such as food pantries and home-delivered meals were up 97% and housing requests such as rent assistance rose 42%.

Unique program boosts food requests by NY seniors

Home-delivered meals for seniors just got a big upgrade. In Rochester, NY, adults 60 and older who could not travel to get food during the pandemic are able to order free meals from selected restaurants in the city.

Show-Me: Holiday meal needs in Missouri

During COVID-19, food needs in the two biggest cities in Missouri have been strikingly similar. Until Thanksgiving, that is.

November Needs: Food, COVID-19 requests grew fastest

From October to November, requests to 2-1-1 for food assistance and COVID-19 information increased more than any other needs. Of the 10 needs for which requests increased most during November (blue bars in chart), half were food-related.

Holiday meal requests drop in 2020

Last week we reported on a recent surge in requests for holiday meals in Broome County, NY. But elsewhere in the U.S., holiday meal requests to 2-1-1 are actually lower than in 2019. We excluded Broome County and examined 24,773 holiday meal requests received by 2-1-1s in 25 states during 2019 and 2020. As the […]

Trending in October: COVID, clothes, holiday meals

Requests for holiday meals, COVID-19 services, and clothing grew fastest in October. COVID-19 requests to 2-1-1, which include those seeking information about testing, jumped by 73% in October. Clothing needs grew by 30%. But the biggest October increase was in requests for holiday meals at 153%.

Holiday meal requests coming earlier in 2020

Voting isn’t the only thing people are lining up for earlier than usual this year. There’s also turkey. Every year, tens of thousands of low-income Americans call 2-1-1 for help finding food to make a Thanksgiving meal for their families. In some communities, those requests are piling up already, weeks sooner than usual. We examined […]

PART 1: After the initial shock

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 sent requests to 2-1-1 skyrocketing for a wide range of needs. We identified four distinct patterns that followed the initial burst of requests to 2-1-1, and they vary by type of need.

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.

Trends of top 3 food needs during COVID

The impact of COVID-19 on food needs of Americans has been profound but has varied by type of need. 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.

4-month trends: 2-1-1 requests during COVID-19

Going up: needs for low-cost housing, child care, health services, and COVID-19 requests. Coming down: food and unemployment requests. We examined requests for assistance in 12 need categories reported by 2-1-1s in 32 states since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Finding food in Florida: Needs vary by region

Food needs in Florida are high since COVID-19, but vary by region with rates of food pantry requests highest in the panhandle, SNAP requests highest around Orlando, and home-delivered meal requests highest on the southeastern coast.

12 trends from the first 3 months of COVID-19

Three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, requests to 2-1-1s in the U.S. are trending up for child care, low-cost housing, landlord-tenant issues, legal assistance, health services and mental health services.

A new normal for 2-1-1 food requests?

Three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, food requests to 2-1-1s in the U.S. seem to be stabilizing. The new rate is more than double what it was pre-COVID.

Big differences in COVID needs for high and low poverty neighborhoods

Since COVID-19, people in high-poverty neighborhoods are more likely to call 2-1-1 seeking help with food and housing while those from low-poverty neighborhoods are more likely to call about healthcare, which includes information about COVID risks, protections, symptoms and testing.

Phone vs. web requests to 2-1-1 during COVID

Requests to 2-1-1 can come by phone or through web searches, and new analyses suggest needs differ by modality. During COVID-19, a much larger proportion of web searches are seeking help with food, while phone requests are more likely to focus on housing, healthcare and mental health needs.

Food needs in low-poverty ZIPs trending up?

In an earlier report, we noticed that food requests to 2-1-1s from low-poverty ZIP codes had larger percentage increases from pre- to post-COVID than ZIP codes with higher poverty rates. Eight weeks later, the same pattern seems to be holding.

Tourist towns hurt by COVID

COVID-19 has been economically devastating to the leisure and hospitality industries and many people who work in them. Popular tourist destinations such as Las Vegas, NV, Atlantic City, NJ and Myrtle Beach, SC have seen dramatic increases in 2-1-1 calls since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

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.

Food needs soar, Monroe County (NY) responds

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.

A roller coaster of social needs in Nebraska

Up, then down, then up again. Requests to 2-1-1 started rising again in a second wave of calls. This may be due to the large number of coronavirus outbreaks in the state related to meat packing plants.

Meat packing update: Iowa needs surge again

In Black Hawk County, Iowa, calls to 2-1-1 for housing, food and health care needs tripled as the pandemic began. Then a COVID-19 outbreak closed the county’s Tyson Foods’ pork packing plant. The resulting second surge was even bigger than the first.

Do men and women call 2-1-1 for different reasons?

Americans calling 2-1-1 since COVID-19 are disproportionately women, but it varies a lot based on the caller’s needs. Nearly all requests (80-90%) for diapers and toilet paper, child care, and clothing and household items come from women.

One month ago: Biggest day in 2-1-1 history?

February 11th (i.e., 2-11) is recognized each year as National 2-1-1 Day. But if you’re looking for the most significant date in 2-1-1 history, it’s probably March 18th, 2020. One month ago today, 2-1-1s recorded the greatest number of requests in single day, 46,399, and that counts only the requests received by 2-1-1s in 24 […]

UPDATE: High-poverty ZIP codes and COVID social needs in 31 states

Last Sunday’s report, “High-poverty ZIP codes hurting most for food, rent during COVID-19,” was so popular that we recreated it including all 31 states for which 2-1-1 data are available. This is up from the original seven states, and we’ve also added four more days of data, through yesterday. In all, we analyzed over 150,000 […]

High-poverty ZIP codes hurting most for food, rent during COVID-19

People living in high poverty ZIP codes make up 10% of the population but account for 39% of all requests for food assistance during COVID-19. They also account for a disproportionate share of requests for help with rent or mortgage payments. We examined over 50,000 requests for food, rent and mortgage assistance received by 2-1-1 […]

Where are food, rent and other needs rising and falling?

After 4 weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, what changes can we see in Americans’ need for assistance with food, rent and other social needs? Data from 2-1-1 helplines indicate that it varies a lot by state. Requests for food assistance are still dramatically higher than normal in all states, but starting to gradually decline in […]

COVID-19 food, rent, utility needs in MO

Food requests in Missouri are more than twice as high as usual, but gradually declining from a COVID-19 peak on March 23rd. In contrast, there is no indication that the COVID-19 increase in requests for rent assistance is declining. We examined daily requests for food, rent and utility payment assistance received by the United Way […]

Daily Food Needs, 1st Quarter, 2020

In the three weeks since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, 2-1-1s across the U.S. have received over 50,000 requests for food pantries. During the same period in 2019, food requests totaled 11,561. As the charts below illustrate, this 340% increase was a sudden and dramatic shift from typical demand for food pantries. Our analyses examined […]

Mapping COVID-19 Food Needs in Florida

Food needs in Florida have tripled since COVID-19, and in some counties the number of requests for food assistance is more than 10X higher than the same dates in 2019. Focus-19 tracks daily requests to 211 helplines in Florida and 30+ other states. We examined requests for food pantries and home-delivered meals by county in […]

Home delivered meals – UPDATED

From March 12-25 last year (2019), the 2-1-1 helpline in Maryland received 4 requests from sick or disables seniors looking for help getting home delivered meals. Over the same dates this year, 453 requests. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable populations is profound, and is being captured every day by 2-1-1s across the […]

Food Pantries – UPDATED

One week ago, we published the first two Focus-19 reports on rising rates of food needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. One week later, the needs are even more profound. We’ve added more states – 23 now – and another 7 days of food requests to 2-1-1 helplines across the U.S. The chart below compares the […]

11-Week Trend Analysis

The pattern is unmistakable. Across the U.S., requests to 2-1-1 from Americans seeking help getting food and paying rent rose sharply and instantly in the days following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our analyses examined 21 cities and states over the first 11 weeks of 2020. For each week, we charted the total number […]

Food Pantries

In a typical week, 2-1-1s get hundreds of requests from people looking for a food pantry to help feed their families.  In Wisconsin, 2-1-1 receives over 500 such requests a week, Maryland and Pennsylvania get 200 requests a week, and Alabama, Missouri and Nevada get over 100 weekly requests.  We examined food pantry requests from […]

Home Delivered Meals

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 […]