Five impacts COVID-19 is having on low-income Americans

Fresh EBT is a free mobile app that helps over 4 million low-income families manage their SNAP benefits. Through the app, users can access daily savings, income-eligible programs, and local employment opportunities, all available from partner organizations.


Conducting monthly surveys

Undeniably, the COVID-19 crisis is having a devastating impact on low-income Americans. To understand how the circumstances in the lives of Fresh EBT users are changing, we have been conducting surveys each month. In sharing the key insights below, we hope that individuals, organizations, and businesses will better understand the changing needs and realities of low-income families and step up for those in need.







September 2020 key findings

The following insights come from a 6-minute multiple choice and open response survey conducted by Fresh EBT to a random sample of 2,865 Fresh EBT users from September 1 - 14, 2020. 


There is no slack and households are being forced into extreme measures to get through the month.

Source: Random sample of Fresh EBT users


reported having to borrow money or use credit to pay for everyday expenses.


report not having what they need at home (like food, household products, cleaning supplies).


of respondents had less than $25 at time of taking the survey.

I have had to borrow money from relatives to make ends meet. I have also had to pawn items to pay bills such as my car...and gas for my car so I can continue to work.

Fresh EBT user



If Fresh EBT users could get help with one thing, they want help with rent.

Source: Random sample of Fresh EBT users

We asked users to pick one area of support that would be the most useful during the pandemic.


report that the pandemic has caused them to fall behind on rent, mortgage or utilities.


used stimulus payments to cover rent or bills.

[The $600 federal supplement] was a god send. It literally made it somewhat possible to get by and pay our bills and be able to provide our child with school uniforms and other necessities. When it ended we were evicted & were able to barely borrow enough to get into a new place and then Hurricane Laura hit and our lives & financial situation went from bad to worse… We are now bouncing between the only shelter available, family & hotels when we’re able to get enough funds together… My 5 year old is starting to develop anxiety related issues And other noticeable psychological damage from the constant stress and uncertainty.

Fresh EBT user



Households have given and received support from friends and family.

Source: Random sample of Fresh EBT users

We emptied our savings account to help my family.

Tamara J., California



Federal interventions made a difference, but are running out.

Source: Random sample of Fresh EBT users

Families who got P-EBT

Families who did not get P-EBT

Households who got extra SNAP

Households who did not get extra SNAP

We need more food stamps to feed our kids that’s what I worry about we run out of food and pantry’s only help once a month and they hardly have anything to give.

Rebecca L., West Virginia



Racial disparities continue to be exposed and exacerbated.

Source: Random sample of Fresh EBT users

Wealth and income inequality:

59.8% of Black families reported borrowing money/using credit for expenses compared to 53.4% of Latinx and 55.6% of White families.

More Black households reported borrowing money/using credit for expenses

28.6% of Black families report not having what they need and 35% report running low compared to 19.7% and 28.7% of White families and 22.2% and 26.2% of Latinx households.

More Black households report not having or running low on essential household needs

33.3% of Latinx and 37.4% of Black households report “not working, but currently looking” compared to 25.8% of White households.

More Black and Latinx households are looking for work than White households

Disparities in access:

76.1% of White households got their EIP compared to 69.8% of Black and 68.3% of Latinx households.

More White households got their EIP/stimulus checks

28.3% of Black households report not receiving P-EBT
Compared to 19.2% Latinx and 17.8% White households.

More qualifying Black households have not received P-EBT

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