Providers Household Pulse Survey: November 2023
The following insights come from a <10-minute multiple choice and open response survey conducted by Providers. This month, responses came from 3,037 randomly selected households out of over 5M Providers users from November 1 - November 14, 2023. All respondents are EBT cardholders.
In the first month of updated benefit amounts for SNAP households, the share of surveyed users eating less and skipping meals dropped to levels not observed since April but remains significantly elevated from last year.
Food pantry utilization rates and reliance on charitable meals and groceries were consistent with previous months.
October saw several adjustments to SNAP benefits for most households nationwide. Among them was the annual cost-of-living adjustment which increases monthly benefit amounts based on food inflation rates. Most households received an average increase of 12.5% in their benefit amount.
The share of respondents that skipped meals or ate less in the last month dropped 2% and 17%, respectively, from October. Still, 38% of respondents skipped meals in the last 30 days and 45% ate less than they did the previous month.
Both the share of respondents that visited a food pantry and the share that relied on others for food in the last month stayed the same at 32%.
While food insecurity indicators improved month-over-month, hardship is still much more prevalent than November 2022 and before pandemic-era emergency SNAP allotments expired in April.
“There really are no food pantries close by where I live because it is such a rural area. However there's a small church at the end of my road and a couple of people that go there actually gave me $20 to help with groceries and personal items. I have no transportation except a bicycle and the only store that is within riding distance to me is a Dollar General and they are only open 1-2 days a week now.” - Crystal, SC
“Without the support of the few friends and family that I have left, I would not be making it month to month…Most of the time. I am lucky if I eat one good solid meal a day and snack throughout the day. I receive $159 in food stamps monthly and that is normally gone within seven to ten days of receiving it, leaving me struggling and depending on family, friends, food banks and other places just to eat.” - Nikole, OH
Financial insecurity is down slightly across indicators after spiking to record levels over the summer.
The share of respondents reporting their cash will only last one or two days fell 5% to 53% of surveyed users overall.
Overall, there was a 3% decrease in the percentage of respondents who had any kind of debt in November. Among various types of debt, only credit card debt increased by 2%. The most notable decrease was in rent and mortgage payments, where the proportion of individuals who owed money decreased by nearly 18%.
The share of surveyed users that paid their rent and utilities late fell 7.4% and 14.3% respectively. In November, a quarter of respondents paid their utility bills late and 18% paid their rent late.
“I have been helped by my community so much these past month. It has been a true blessing. I have also been able to help others by providing a place to stay, a warm plate of food when I have them too, taking in children, and offering rides to and from school to parents who can’t get their children to school.” - Marcellus, MI
As food and financial insecurity showed signs of leveling off, housing instability rose nearly 12% month-over-month in November.
The share of respondents in unstable housing such as a motel, car, or shelter rose 11.6% in November to over 13% of surveyed users overall. The percentage of respondents that stayed at least one night in a shelter last month rose 20% to over 5% overall.
Over 20% of respondents are actively looking for a new home right now.
Another one-fifth of respondents are casually looking for a new home for sometime in the coming months or year.
“I have been lucky enough to have friends and family offer to [let me] stay with them at times. I lost everything in a vehicle accident, and it’s been hard to get back on my feet, so I couch surf for now. I luckily have a job now so I am trying to get help with housing since I can’t do it on my own. EBT has helped me a lot with food in order to have meals daily.” - Stephanie, CA
“Neighbors and I pool food from food banks and pet pantries and [give each other] rides…Rent and utility costs are absolutely outrageous and housing vouchers aren't keeping up, so we try to be good tenants and help each other so the landlord has no reason to try to evict us for higher paying market rate tenants.” - Ellen, ME