Seattle hunger: 15 percent spike in food assistance

Dec 14, 2016, 5:05 PM | Updated: 5:15 pm

Seattle hunger...

Seattle distributed 13,981,000 pounds of food over the past year, a 15 percent increase in food handed out by the city. (Bromford, Flickr)

(Bromford, Flickr)

The local need for food to battle hunger appears to have heightened, according to a report from mayors across the United States. There was a 15 percent increase in food distributed by the city to tackle Seattle hunger over the past year — the highest spike of any city surveyed.

A study conducted by The United Conference of Mayors and the National Alliance to End Homelessness was released this week. The study states that many cities have homelessness rates higher than the national average, yet requests for emergency food assistance have only risen slightly. Seattle, however, saw a spike in the amount of food it gave out — a 15 percent increase over the previous year.

Northwest food banks experiencing low donations

In Seattle, the study reports, the city distributed 13,981,000 pounds of food over the past year. Most cities reported an increase in distributed food to the hungry, but Seattle had the highest increase. Other cities may have given out more pounds of food, but the increase over the previous year was generally far lower than Seattle — an average of 2 percent.

The only other city with an rate increase close to Seattle’s was Des Moines, Iowa with 11 percent. Seattle was budgeted to spend $3,057,000 to fund emergency food assistance; a 2 percent increase over the past year.

Seattle was among 38 cities surveyed to provide a “snapshot” of homelessness and hunger in America. It was the only Washington city to be included in the study. Portland and Gresham, Ore. were the only other Northwest cities.

A total of 41 percent of the surveyed cities reported the need for emergency food assistance increased over the past year. Families were 63 percent of those requesting food, 51 percent were employed, and 18 percent were elderly, while 8 percent were homeless. The study points out that low wages is cited as the leading cause for hunger in the cities. CNN reports that those statistics indicate that families seeking food assistance decreased since the last report. However, “the proportion of people who were employed and in need of food assistance rose sharply — increasing to 51 percent from 42 percent.”

The study’s message comes as some food banks in the Puget Sound region are reporting low donations, and during a time of year they depend on generosity. This includes the Salvation Army Renton Rotary Food Bank, the Puyallup Food Bank, and Bremerton Foodline.

Seattle hunger and the homeless crisis

High housing costs were also pointed out as a related factor in homelessness.

“The one thing we found to be almost universally true among the surveyed cities was the the lack of affordable housing prevented (cities) from solving the problem of of homelessness,”  said Nan Roman, President of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “While the report shows many of the cities are able to reduce homelessness, the national lack of affordable housing is likely to have a chilling effect on their efforts over the coming years.”

The Conference of Mayors points out that many cities in the country have higher rates of homelessness than the national average, yet requests for food assistance are only rising slightly.

Seattle is among the areas bucking the national trends. Washington state saw a 7.3 percent increase in homelessness over the previous year. The Seattle-King County region is where homelessness grew considerably, whereas areas around it experienced a decrease.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has set aside millions to tackle the homelessness crisis in Seattle, and has opened a series of tent cities to start addressing the issue of unsheltered people on the streets. The city’s ultimate goal is a program called “Pathways Home” that will aim for long-term housing solutions to homelessness.

Local News

FILE - The Senate Judiciary Committee's ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. returns on C...

Associated Press

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, an advocate for liberal priorities, dies at age 90

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a centrist Democrat who was elected to the Senate in 1992 in the “Year of the Woman” and broke gender barriers throughout her long career in local and national politics, has died. She was 90.

3 hours ago

(Photo from KIRO 7)...

Colleen West, KIRO 7 News

Bellevue Police warn of jewelry-for-cash scam targeting good Samaritans

Police are seeing a retuning scam in Bellevue that preys on good Samaritans, and it’s similar to one that’s been happening for years.

4 hours ago

BRAZIL - 2023/09/26: In this photo illustration, the Microsoft Bing logo is displayed on a laptop s...

Associated Press

Apple leverages idea of switching to Bing to pry more money out of Google, Microsoft exec says

Apple was never serious about replacing Google with Microsoft’s Bing as the default search engine in Macs and iPhones, but kept the possibility open as a "bargaining chip'' to extract bigger payments from Google

5 hours ago

Image: A Seattle Police vehicle...

Frank Sumrall

Report: Seattle Police ended contract with AI service after Auderer’s comments

SPD canceled its contract with Truleo less than a month after Officer Daniel Auderer's comments about Jaahnavi Kandula's death were captured, a report says.

15 hours ago

Washington wildfires...

Ted Buehner

Maui and Spokane: 2 public warning systems and the need for preparedness

The tragic wind-whipped Maui wildfire last month took many lives. How does the public warning system here shape up in comparison?

16 hours ago

spd auderer...

Frank Sumrall

Seattle Police Officer Daniel Auderer reassigned

Daniel Auderer, the officer who made inappropriate comments over the death of Jaahnavi Kandula, has been reassigned to a non-operational position.

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Seattle hunger: 15 percent spike in food assistance