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Impact of COVID-9 on Hunger Relief Organizations in the US

In partnership with, we launched an online survey to assess the impact of the pandemic on the hunger relief organizations, such as food banks, frontline, and advocacy organizations. The survey period spanned late summer – early fall after the pandemic started to affect the US mid-March. With this survey, this study aimed to achieve the following goals:

  1. To document the actions, needs, barriers, and successes of organizations providing access to food during a pandemic.
    • Investigate how front-line emergency food access organizations are responding to the crisis/what they need to handle their response (i.e. funding, alleviation of restrictive policies, more advocacy, paid staff, more partners, etc.)
    • Investigate what operational practices or policy changes their organization has had to make as a result of the crisis.
    • Investigate where their organization is getting information about the impacts of COVID-19 and how to address issues in their operations/how they are sharing information out with others.
    • Investigate how they are networking with/and or receiving support from government (local, state, or federal) and private sector (e.g. retailers, food industry).
  2. To assess potential long-term shifts in organizational policies, practices, programs,  and purpose as a result of providing food access during a pandemic
    • Investigate how the crisis has shifted priorities and programs for organizations to underscore and/or point to different or new strategies aimed at addressing root causes
    • Investigate if organizations are shifting to address root causes long-term as a result of the crisis
  3. To identify recommendations for systemic change in the emergency food system highlighted by this crisis and in local/state/federal policy to support those changes long-term.
    • Investigate what systemic issues are becoming more prominent as a result of COVID-19 and what changes they would recommend addressing those issues long-term.



  • Gizem Templeton, Ph.D., Duke World Food Policy Center,
  • Alison Conrad, MPP, Duke World Food Policy Center,
  • Deborah Hill, Duke World Food Policy Center,
  • Alison Cohen, consultant, formerly of WhyHunger