Nearly one-third of Washington households not getting enough food since start of pandemic: study

Nearly one-third of Washington households have struggled to get enough to food at some point since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, a new study found.

Of the 30% of households that experienced food insecurity, 59% had children living at 币圈app都有哪些home, according to the Washington State Food Security Survey, put together by a team of professors and researchers at Washington State University, the University of Washington and Tacoma Community College.

“We wanted to understand how access to food and economic security for Washington residents has changed amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Laura Lewis, director of the Washington State University Food Systems Program.

Researchers in April estimated about 1.6 million people in Washington were not able to get enough food. That number has risen drastically, according to researchers.

 

“Now, we think it’s up to 2.2 million people, approximately a third of our population,” said Katie Rains, policy advisor to the director for the Washington State Department of Agriculture. “The figure was staggering."

Throughout the pandemic, businesses, residents and nonprofits have had to adapt to restrictions put into place. The pandemic changed the way food banks and pantries operated.

“It used to be you could go in and shop and pick out your own food,” Lewis said. “Now, people are getting less diversity in their food products, and on average, less food.”

The pandemic also meant food banks — while adapting to restrictions — had to provide for far more households to meet the increased demand.

“We need to make sure that food banks and food pantries have enough resources to meet these needs,” Rains said. “We’re keeping an eye on the number of people coming to food banks and food pantries, especially first time clients.”

Since the start of the pandemic, Washington has put into place a series of restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus. In March, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a stay-at-币圈app都有哪些home order, which closed all nonessential businesses and resulted in thousands of people losing their jobs. The numbers of people applying for unemployment benefits in Washington and across the country surged at the time.

Once coronavirus cases started to go down, counties across the state began to reopen in a phased approach through the state's Safe Start Washington plan. But last week, Inslee put additional restrictions back into place as coronavirus cases reached new peaks across the state. The new restrictions included requiring that restaurants and bars shut down indoor dining, gyms close and retail stores cap occupancy at 25%.

The new restrictions mean more people could be out of work once again.

Shortly after the initial restrictions were put into place in March, Congress passed the CARES Act, a stimulus bill which provided one-time $1,200 payments to many adults and added $600 per week for people receiving unemployment benefits. But when those benefits ended, leaders failed to act again and pass a new stimulus bill to help the thousands of people still out of work and struggling.

Now, local and state officials are working to provide support to businesses and families who don't have enough money to afford rent, food and other basic necessities, but there hasn't been nearly enough to meet the massive need across the state.

 
RELATED CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE:

8 ways to support Seattle's small businesses amid COVID-19

Fred Meyer, QFC launch COVID-19 rapid antibody tests

Here's what you can, can't do under WA's new COVID restrictions

Seattle grocery stores adapt to new restrictions, capacity limits

79 Seattle bars, restaurants closed permanently due to COVID-19

//