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.


Food insecurity 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.



King County residents do not have equal access to healthy food.

  • 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

Six years after the “official” end of the Great Recession, the need for food assistance has barely started to go down.

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:

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 nearly tripled, from 17% to 45%.
  • Not in a couple relationship. For un-partnered adults, food hardship increased from 14% to 23%, a change primarily driven by the increase 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:
  • Almost doubled (8% to 15%) for adults living in households without children.
  • Doubled (7% to 14%) for Seattle households with no children.
  • Tripled (5% to 15%) for East Region households with no children.
  • Doubled (6% to 13%) for no-child households where the respondent had some college or more.
  • More than doubled (11% to 23%) in no-child households in which the respondent had a disability.

Adults with “some college.”  From 2010 to 2013, food hardship among those who left college without a degree increased from 10% to 18%.

Adults who were lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender: food hardship soared, from 8% to 25%.

Seniors.  In 2013, older age no longer protected against food hardship.  In 2010, only 4% of seniors age 65+ reported food hardship; by 2013, 7% of seniors reported running out of food – a rate that no longer differed from that of younger adults. 

In 2013, food hardship remained high for:


Notes, Sources & Related Links