COVID-19 and Food Assistance by the Numbers
At Code for America, we rely on data to ensure that all of our decisions are informed by real evidence about the people who use our services. It’s important that the data is supplemented by qualitative research in order to surface insights into what those people are experiencing, and to keep their full human experience from being reduced to a data point. In the words of data scientist Gwen Rino, “Qualitative research provides ground truth for the numbers.”
But sometimes, the numbers themselves speak volumes.
California residents have now been under orders to stay at home for over a month, and those same orders have caused devastating job loss across the state—and the country. In that time, people have turned to social safety net programs like SNAP in record numbers. Since COVID-19 hit California, we have been closely tracking GetCalFresh application data in order to share key learnings and make recommendations for states to get help to those in need. The numbers below reflect not only a change in sheer application volume, but the circumstances of people who need help and the ways they are reaching out to government.
We’re continuing to monitor GetCalFresh application data closely as the situation changes from week to week. A crisis of this magnitude has made our work feel more urgent than ever before, but fundamentally it stays the same: We put people at the center of our work. We use a combination of quantitative data and qualitative research to gain a deep understanding of client needs. And from those needs we make product improvements, advocate for important policy changes, and do everything we can to ensure that government services work for the people who need them most.
For recommendations on how to serve safety net clients with empathy and dignity, explore our Blueprint for a Human-Centered Safety Net