Food: Summary & Data Highlights
Not everyone in King County has enough food.
Lack of adequate food can affect physical and mental health. Children who grow up in homes without enough food are at increased risk of illness, and of experiencing academic and psychosocial problems. Nutritional deficiencies and family stress both contribute to these outcomes.
WHY IT MATTERS
Food hardship is associated with:
- Problems with health, behavior, and cognitive development in children.
- Depressive symptoms in mothers.
- Health problems in pregnant mothers, including greater weight gains during pregnancy and increased risk of diabetes (which in turn increases infants’ risk of overweight/obesity).
- Health problems in seniors, including asthma, depression, and heart disease.
WHAT WE KNOW FROM RECENT FOOD DATA IN KING COUNTY
Food hardship is unacceptably high in King County.
- In 2013, 13% of King County households ran out of food and didn’t have money to buy more, up from 8% in 2010.
- Recovery from the Great Recession still eludes many King County residents.
In 2013, food was most likely to run out for:
- Low-income residents.
- 58% of those with income <$15,000;
- 35% of those with income from $15,000 to <$25,000;
- 38% of those with income <$35,000 (combination of 3 lowest income groups, data not shown) – with and without children.
- Hispanic/Latino residents (41%) – with and without children.
- Poorly educated residents (45% of those with less than a high school diploma).
- Unable-to-work (53%) or unemployed (43%) residents.
- Adults not in a couple relationship (22%) – with and without children.
- Adults with a disability (20%).
- South Region adults with children (23%, data not shown).
From 2010 to 2013, food hardship increased significantly among many groups that were already experiencing food hardship in 2010:
- Low-income. For adults with income less than $35,000, food hardship increased from 24% to 38%.
- Unemployed. For the unemployed, food hardship more than tripled, from 16% to 43%.
- Not in a couple relationship. For un-partnered adults, food hardship increased from 12% to 22%, a change primarily driven by the doubling of food hardship among un-partnered adults without children. Being in a couple relationship offered more protection in 2013 than it did in 2010.
In 2013 the risk of food hardship also changed among groups that had been relatively protected in 2010:
- Households without children. In 2013, households without children were just as likely to run out of food as those with children – a major change from 2010. Specifically, food hardship:
- Doubled (7% to 14%) for adults living in households without children.
- Almost doubled (17% to 33%) for no-child households with annual income <$35,000.
- Almost doubled (5% to 9%) for white non-Hispanic households with no children.
- Almost tripled (5% to 13%) for Seattle households with no children.
- Quadrupled (3% to 12%) for East Region households with no children.
- More than doubled (5% to 12%) for no-child households where the respondent had some college or more.
- More than doubled (8% to 18%) in no-child households in which the respondent had a disability.
- Whites. Although numerical increases in food hardship were greater among Hispanics and Asians, the only race/ethnicity group in which the 2010-to-2013 difference reached statistical significance was whites – the largest group.
- Seniors and retirees. In 2013, older age and retirement no longer protected against food hardship. In 2010, only 4% of seniors age 65+ reported food hardship; by 2013, 10% of seniors reported running out of food – a rate that did not differ statistically from that of younger adults. The pattern for retirees was almost identical.
In 2013, food hardship remained high for:
- South Region residents (18%).
- Young adults age 18 to 24 (22%).
- Hispanic/Latino residents (41%).
- Low-income adults (from 22% to 58%, depending on low-income group) and low-income adults with children (3 lowest income groups combined into those making <$35,000/year).
- High school graduates (19%) and adults who didn’t finish high school (45%).
- Adults unable to work (53%).
- Adults with children in the household (12%).
King County residents do not have equal access to healthy food.
- Food deserts are found in South Seattle and the South Region of King County.
- South Region has fewer farmers’ markets per capita than other regions.
- Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards are accepted at …
- 100% of Seattle’s 17 farmers’ market locations
- 50% of North Region’s 4 farmers’ markets
- 63% of South Region’s 8 farmers’ markets
- 50% of East Region’s 12 farmers’ markets
Five years after the “official” end of the Great Recession, the need for food assistance has barely started to go down.
- In 2014, the number of King County households participating in the Basic Food program was still almost double the number in 2008, and close to 3 times the number in 2002.
- While Basic Food participation in some cities peaked between 2011 and 2013, it is still rising in other cities.
- In many South King County cities, close to half of all children participate in the Basic Food program.
- King County food banks received more than 2.4 million visits in 2014, reflecting a deep and continuing need among King County households.
- By 2014, WIC enrollment still had not returned to pre-recession levels.
- The Free & Reduced-Price Meal program helps feed more than 1 in 3 public-school students.