Exacerbated by COVID-19, a growing number of people in King County are seeking food assistance. To help address this urgent need, Public Health – Seattle & King County, the City of Seattle and the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction are launching new efforts to connect families in need to food resources.
New resources available to address food insecurity
With the unexpected spread of COVID-19, food insecurity is rising in King County. Public Health – Seattle & King County along with the City of Seattle and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) have launched new resources and programs to help connect families in need with food resources.
Data from the 211 Crisis Connections hotline from April to early May indicates that food is the second most common social service requested during the COVID-19 crisis, after housing. Additionally, 14,800 more households in King County received Basic Food (SNAP) benefits in May 2020 compared to January 2020 (representing a 15% increase). Enrollments in the WIC program, a supplemental program for women, infants and children, also increased.
COVID-19 Emergency Food Resource Map
With food insecurity on the rise, emergency food services such as food banks and meal programs are more urgent than ever before. Public Health and the City of Seattle maintain a map of free food resources across King County that provide emergency food during COVID-19. The food resource map is updated every two weeks and will soon include updated listings of summer meal locations.
Pandemic EBT Emergency School Meals Program
Due to COVID-19 school closures, families may be eligible for food benefits they previously received through schools through the new Pandemic EBT Emergency School Meals Program or P-EBT. Any family with a child in grades K-12 who is eligible for free or reduced-price school meals – including any children who go to school where meals are free for all students – can get P-EBT. P-EBT is available to all students regardless of citizenship or immigration status.
If your family already receives Basic Food through DSHS, you do not need to apply for P-EBT. You will automatically receive this benefit on your EBT card automatically.
Families who are not currently enrolled in either free or reduced lunch programs or Basic Food will first need to reach out to their school district to complete an application for free or reduced-priced school meals before June 30, 2020. Once families become eligible, they can apply for P-EBT. Eligible families not currently receiving Basic Food can apply for P-EBT online at washingtonconnections.org. The application will be available starting June 28, 2020.
For more information and to apply, visit washingtonconnection.org or call the WA Department of Social and Health Services at (877-501-2233). The Community Health Access Program is also available to assist families with the enrollment process (1-800-756-5437).
Daily totals for new COVID-19 cases and deaths are available on Public Health's Data Dashboard webpage, which updates as soon as data are available, typically between 1-3 p.m.
Isolation and quarantine facilities update
Forty people are currently staying in King County isolation and quarantine facilities.