Trending in October: COVID, clothes, holiday meals

Requests for holiday meals, COVID-19 services, and clothing grew fastest in October. We examined 1.4 million requests for help with 49 different needs received by 2-1-1 helplines in 32 states during September and October 2020. We compared October requests (800,805) to September requests (647,831) to determine the increase or decrease for each need. COVID-19 requests to 2-1-1, which include those seeking information about testing, jumped by 73% in October, corresponding with a national surge in COVID-19 cases during the month that surpassed record levels set over the summer. Clothing needs grew by 30%, likely due to colder weather that often leads to requests for winter coats, and possibly due to needs for school clothing for children returning to school in-person after starting the year at home. But the biggest October increase was in requests for holiday meals. These peak each year in the month before Thanksgiving, and that pattern generally held true with requests up 153%. Although some counties have seen greater-than-average requests for holiday meals this year, the rate of increase in most of the U.S. is actually down from prior years. Data were obtained from 2-1-1 Counts, a daily tracking system of community needs. States included: 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. The chart reports the percentage increase or decrease in requests for needs that received at least 1,000 requests in September. Mouse over each bar in the chart to see the number of requests received by 2-1-1s in September and October.

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