Brief Charitable Food Use Increased Nearly 50 Percent from 2019 to 2020
Findings from the December 2020 Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey
Elaine Waxman, Poonam Gupta, Dulce Gonzalez
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A large increase in demand for charitable food assistance across the US has followed the rise in food insecurity, economic disruption, and material hardship experienced by families during the COVID-19 pandemic recession. In this brief, we use data from the December 2020 round of the Urban Institute’s Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey (WBNS), a nationally representative survey of more than 7,500 adults ages 18 to 64, to examine charitable food use (defined as the use of free groceries or free meals) this past year compared with use in 2019 as well as how use of assistance in 2020 varies across demographic groups. We find the following:

Research Areas Health and health care Families Race and equity
Tags Family and household data Racial and ethnic disparities Immigrant children, families, and communities
Policy Centers Health Policy Center Income and Benefits Policy Center