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Six 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.








November 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 2,914 Fresh EBT users from November 4 - 17, 2020. All respondents are EBT cardholders.


More people are losing jobs than are starting work. Black workers are disproportionately impacted.

Source: Random sample of Fresh EBT users

Black workers are disproportionately impacted:

More than 2x as many Black workers have lost or quit a job in the last 30 days than White workers.

And almost 2x as many Black workers have hours/wages reduced in the last 30 days, compared to White and Latinx workers.

More than 2x

as many respondents lost or quit a job in the last 30 days than started a new job.

More than 3x

as many respondents have lost or quit a job since March, as have started a new one.

Reduced hours


People are hiring but not giving hours, and it doesn’t even matter the experience you have - SNAP participant, November 2020


I worked part time and didn’t work for several months because it’s in catering . Now only working once a week or none . - SNAP participant, November 2020


I havn't been working no more than 20 or 30 hours a month. Jobs hire but are not giving many hours - SNAP participant, November 2020

School and daycare closures are complicated


COVID-19 made me lose my job because I’m a single parent and can’t keep a job because of my kids are home - SNAP participant, November 2020


Lost my job and had to stay home with the kids for elearning and behind on bills - SNAP participant, November 2020

Good jobs are hard to come by


After my unemployment ended, I took a job of less pay and less hours. I will continue to seek better employment, but the future looks pretty hopeless. - SNAP participant, November 2020


I have no money for anything. I've put in countless job applications with no luck. - SNAP participant, November 2020


Jobs hire then fire and a lot of jobs are now functioning differently - SNAP participant, November 2020



Covid-19 infection rates are rising.

Source: Random sample of Fresh EBT users

More people report getting sick:


25% of respondents reported having or having had COVID, compared to 17% in October.

More respondents have reported being unable to work in November than in October.

If I could get help with one thing:

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Something that would help my mental state.

- SNAP Participant, November 2020

Almost half of respondents report experiencing mental health challenges like depression or anxiety in the last 30 days.



Unemployment Insurance benefits impacted SNAP benefits.

Source: Random sample of Fresh EBT users

Did receiving unemployment impact your food stamps?

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Yes it reduced my [SNAP] allowance.

- SNAP Participant, November 2020

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And they [SNAP benefits] didn't get fully restored when the unemployment benefits ended.

- SNAP Participant, November 2020

Almost half of respondents who received unemployment benefits this year experienced changes in their SNAP allotment.


report being cut off of  SNAP because of Unemployment benefits.


report getting less SNAP each month because of Unemployment benefits.


of respondents said they were required to pay back some of their SNAP benefits.



Respondents with school aged children were more likely to be working AND to rely on credit to get through the month than households without children.

Source: Random sample of Fresh EBT users

Getting through the month:


of households with school aged children report borrowing or using credit to cover everyday expenses in the last 30 days.

Families with school age children are more likely to:


Be working (and lost employment, gained employment and for looking for employment)


More likely to be receiving UI, or have received UI earlier this year


Have had SNAP payments impacted (lost or reduced) from UI


Lower housing security (less likely to be confident they can stay in their home)

The food are going quicker than before, with the children home more. The whole assumption that the children has to be home for five days for remote learning is ludicrous. Especially when the single parent is fired because of Daycare and child care issues. Especially when the company knows they need their jobs.

- SNAP participant, November 2020

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Almost two-thirds of Fresh EBT households voted in the November election.

Source: Random sample of Fresh EBT users

What is most important to you this election?

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Keeping up with rent, utilities and food are an ongoing challenge.

Source: Random sample of Fresh EBT users

If government could help with one thing...

In the past 30 Days:

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30% help with rent

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20% help with food

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26% help with utilities

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5% help with transportation assistance

I currently work 3rd shift due to only having one vehicle and my husband goes to school and works full time and his job hours varies based on what work they have. So I work part time third shift to make sure I can get to and from work and also be home with my children since they are on virtual schooling. If he had help getting an extra vehicle that would be great. That way I could manage to get my children to a sitter so I could work more hours and also have transportation to doctors and grocery shopping more often when we run out of things such as milk and other items such as that.

- SNAP participant, November 2020

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Let’s connect

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