Skip to main content
Skip to main content
for

Food insecurity remains at persistently high levels in May, researchers find

Food insecurity declined among white respondents, increased among black respondents

Food insecurity remains elevated and statistically unchanged between April and May, with food insecurity rates twice as high overall — and nearly three times as high among respondents with children — as they were predicted to be in March. Recent findings also show that food insecurity declined among white respondents and increased among black respondents.

The second round of the COVID Impact Survey was recently released, allowing Northwestern University researchers to continue to monitor changes in economic and health outcomes during the COVID-19 crisis. In the report,Northwestern economist Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, director of the University’s Institute for Policy Research, and research analyst Abigail Pitts update estimates of food insecurity, analyzing data from the survey to describe levels of food insecurity by race, income and presence of children in May 2020. 

“The elevated rates of food insecurity, especially among families with children, are alarming and point to the need for an urgent response,” Schanzenbach said.

Their latest results show:

  • Food insecurity remains elevated and statistically unchanged, with food insecurity rates twice as high overall — and nearly three times as high among respondents with children — as they were predicted to be in March. 
  • Between the April and May surveys, food insecurity declined among white respondents and increased among black respondents. In May, a majority of black respondents with children reported they were food insecure.
  • Seven percent of respondents reported receiving benefits from food pantries over the prior 7 days, a rate that was statistically unchanged across the two months.
  • A substantial share of respondents report applying in the past seven days for benefits from Unemployment Insurance (UI) or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), with declines in reported applications across the different reporting periods.
  • Rates of food insecurity and food pantry use continue to vary widely across states and metropolitan areas represented in the survey.

Follow Schanzenbach on Twitter @dwschanz and @IPRatNU for more on her ongoing research about food insecurity during COVID-19.