Hunger in Washington

Addressing Hunger, Poverty, and Communities in Need 

For thousands of people in Washington, the threat of hunger is a fact of life. Roughly 11.5% of Washington residents lacked food security in 2017, according to estimates from Feeding America—meaning that they do not have consistent access to a healthy amount or variety of food. Food insecurity might mean spending money on food instead of other vital expenses, like school supplies or medicine. For some households, food insecurity takes the form of hunger pangs. A more recent estimate from the USDA puts Washington's food insecurity rate at 10.3% in 2018—while the situation is improving, the rate is still far too high. 

This website presents a full picture of the food security landscape throughout Washington and its 39 counties. In addition to county-level food insecurity data from Feeding America, we’ve also included data on demographics, poverty, Basic Food participation, unemployment, and other measures from the American Community Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The data is arranged into three broad topics—Food Insecurity, Poverty in Working Washington, and Community Snapshot. Each topic starts with an overview of the data at state level. From there, you can search for any county in Washington to see how its local data compares to state benchmarks. 

Explore the data for Washington and all 39 counties in the state:

Food Insecurity in Washington

Far too many of our Washington neighbors face consistent issues with hunger. 1 in 9 struggles to put food on their table. 1 in 6 children don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

Poverty in Working Washington

In a state where incomes continue to rise, poverty rates remain relatively unchanged for Washingtonians currently struggling to make ends meet.

Community Snapshot

Many communities experience poverty and hunger at disproportionately higher rates. People of color, women, LGBTQ+ communities, veterans, immigrants, and rural communities all face challenges rooted in generations of structural barriers.

About Northwest Harvest

Northwest Harvest is Washington’s leading hunger relief agency—supporting a statewide network of 375 food banks, meal programs, and high-need schools. Focused on improving our food system, Northwest Harvest believes everyone in Washington should have equitable access to nutritious food that nourishes the body, mind, and spirit. In addition to making sure those who suffer from hunger are being fed, Northwest Harvest aims to shift public opinion, as well as impact institutional policies and societal practices that perpetuate hunger, poverty, and disparities in our state.

About the Data

The county- and state-level data on food insecurity was graciously supplied by Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap project.  Most recent data is from "Map the Meal Gap 2019: A Report on County and Congressional District Food Insecurity and County Food Cost in the United States in 2017." Gundersen, C., A. Dewey, M. Kato, A. Crumbaugh & M. Strayer. Feeding America, 2019.

Unemployment and underemployment data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). County- and state-level data for official unemployment rate is from the BLS's Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program. State-level underemployment (U-6 rate) data is from the BLS's Alternative Measures of Labor Utilization.

Poverty, income, Basic Food participation, and demographic data—the remainder of the data on this website—is from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) program. While the ACS data is released annually for areas with large populations, this site generally uses 5-year estimates, which are available data for all counties and census tracts. The five-year datasets produce more accurate estimates by covering a longer period: 60-months rather than 12-months. Documentation for the ACS tables used throughout the site is available at the bottom of each page.