WAFOOD Brief 11 – Special Research Brief: Food Security and Barriers to Food Assistance Use in Washington State Households, 2020-2021

Published August 16, 2021, this brief provides a more detailed look at disparities in food security and barriers to food assistance use in Washington State Households during the COVID-19 pandemic [combined survey waves 1 (June/July 2020) and 2 (December 2020/January 2021)].

Initial Findings

A total of 5,330 Washington State residents from all 39 counties responded to the WAFOOD 1 and 2 surveys. Food insecurity was highest in households with annual incomes less than $15,000 (56%) and in unemployed respondents (46%). Food insecurity was also high amongst vulnerable populations, with high food insecurity in those identifying as transgender, non-binary, or other (44%), those identifying as non-Hispanic Black (44%), Hispanic (38%), American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawai’ian/Other Pacific Islanders (40%), and in households with children (35%). Among food insecure households, 66% used food assistance during COVID-19. Food assistance use during COVID-19 was highest in households with children (54%) and among BIPOC respondents (50-54%). Food banks were the most used food assistance program by food insecure survey respondents during COVID-19.

Explore More: Find all briefs and publications related to this study on the project page.


Publication Date: August 16, 2021

Author(s): The WAFOOD survey was a joint effort between the UW and WSU with collaboration from Tacoma Community College (TCC). The team comprises Adam Drewnowski, Director, Center for Public Health Nutrition and Professor, Epidemiology at UWSPH; Jennifer J. Otten, Food Systems Director and Associate Professor, Nutritional Sciences and Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) at UWSPH; Laura R. Lewis, Director, Food Systems Program and an Associate Professor, Community and Economic Development at WSU; Sarah M. Collier, Assistant Professor, Nutritional Sciences and DEOHS at UWSPH; Brinda Sivaramakrishnan, Professor, Community Health at TCC; Chelsea M. Rose, Research Coordinator, Epidemiology at UWSPH; Alan Ismach, Research Coordinator, Health Services at UWSPH; Esther Nguyen, Research Assistant at UWSPH; and James Buszkiewicz, Research Scientist, Epidemiology at UWSPH.

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