The City of Seattle is taking steps to help residents who may be experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The City is contributing $5 million to provide emergency food vouchers to approximately 6,250 families currently participating in city-supported childcare and food assistance programs.
In partnership with the United Way of King County, the City recently expanded the grocery voucher program to support workers who have recently lost their jobs or face a significant reduction in hours due to the COVID-19.
See below for answers to frequently asked questions and information about the current and expanded voucher program.
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Who is Eligible to Receive these Vouchers?
The Office of Sustainability and Environment is coordinating directly with other City departments to identify those who may be most in need. In the initial phase of the grocery voucher program, vouchers were sent to people currently enrolled in City-supported childcare and food assistance programs.
The City expanded eligibility in mid-April to include working people who have recently lost their job or experienced a significant reduction in hours due to COVID-19. This expansion is in partnership with community-based organizations and will initially provide 1,000 workers impacted by COVID-19 with vouchers that can immediately be used at any Washington state Safeway store.
Food emergency vouchers are one of many resources available to support those in need. Please explore other resources across our community during this time of need by visiting the City of Seattle Mayor’s COVID-19 community resources and Public Health Seattle King County emergency resources.
Eligibility Through City Childcare and Food Assistance Programs:
What if I am not currently enrolled in City-supported child care and food assistance programs?
If you are not currently enrolled in City-supported childcare and food assistance programs and still need support, you can access other food benefits. For example, meals are being served in a daily basis at different public schools and local foodbanks are still serving their constituents in different ways. For more information on these and other services visit www.seattle.gov/covid-19.
Does SNAP/EBT/Basic Food (food stamp) participation mean I will receive these benefits?
Participating in SNAP (or receiving food stamps) does not mean you will automatically receive Emergency Food Vouchers. Presently, we are serving 6,250 families who are enrolled in some City-supported child care and City-supported food assistance programs. If we get more funding to expand the program more widely, more information will become available at www.seattle.gov/covid-19.
How long will these vouchers be available?
There will be two mailings of vouchers, with the first batch available for use until April 30, 2020, and the second batch available for use until May 31, 2020. The total amount will be $800 in vouchers over 8 weeks.
How is this funded?
The City of Seattle has committed $5 million to support this program, which will provide 8 weeks of groceries for 6,250 families in need. Our goal is to raise an additional $15 million, so that the program can meet the grocery needs of 25,000 families. Assuming 4 people per family, this will provide two months of groceries for 100,000 Seattle residents.
Displaced Worker Voucher Expansion (updated April 20, 2020):
Who are the community-based organizations partnering on this effort?
United Way of King County is partnering with local organizations to get vouchers to those who have recently lost their jobs or face a significant reduction in hours due to COVID-19. The following community-based organizations to distribute the vouchers: Asian Counseling and Referral Services, API Chaya, Casa Latina, Entre Hermanos, Fair Work Center, Ingersoll Gender Center, Lake City Collective, Providence Regina House, Refugee Women’s Alliance, United Indians of All Tribes, Villa Comunitaria, and West African Community Council.
Why were these organizations chosen?
These organizations have deep ties to the communities they serve. The organizations are focused on distributing the vouchers to recently displaced workers who are unable to access other forms of government aid due to structural or institutional barriers, like language barriers, fear of deportation, or experiencing domestic violence. Due to their longstanding trust and support amongst their community, they can get this support out quickly into the hands of residents who have been unable to access other forms of assistance during this crisis.
How is this funded?
The funding is coming from a variety of private sources, allowing us to serve 1,000 impacted and displaced workers who are unable to access traditional government aid at this time. The City will continue to fundraise with the goal of providing 2,000 total recently displaced workers these grocery vouchers. This is in addition the $5 million the City of Seattle committed to help 6,250 families.
How long will these vouchers be available?
Each recipient will receive two sets of vouchers, for a total of $800 in vouchers over 8 weeks. Participants will receive their first set of vouchers for use until May 31, 2020, and the second batch available for use until June 30, 2020.
More Information about the Grocery Vouchers
How do the vouchers work?
Customers can use these vouchers (up to 20 vouchers in one transaction) just as they would cash at any Washington Safeway store. Customers will present these vouchers to the cashier at check out and need to enter their Safeway Club Card number in order for the voucher discount to be applied to the transaction. Vouchers are not able to be used for transactions in self check-out lanes. No change is given for purchases less than the voucher value. Vouchers are non-transferable and void if copied. Lost or stolen vouchers cannot be replaced.
What products are covered?
These vouchers can be used to purchase any item at Safeway except for tobacco, alcohol, lottery tickets, gift cards, or fuel.
Can I contribute to support this program?
Thank you for wanting to support this program! We are currently working with businesses and the philanthropic community to secure additional funding for this program. The United Way of King County has also set up a Community Relief Fund that will rapidly deploy resources to community-based organizations at the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Puget Sound region. This fund can accept donations of any amount.
What if I’ve received vouchers but don’t want them?
If you believe you’ve received these vouchers in error, or do not want to receive additional vouchers, please email SeaFoodVoucher@seattle.gov or call 206-684-CITY (2489) to opt-out.
What if I am too sick or need to be quarantined and can’t shop?
Emergency Food Vouchers can only be used for in-store purchases. If you are an emergency food voucher recipient who is quarantined or unable to get to a grocery store due to COVID-related concerns, please call 206-684-CITY to request grocery delivery services.
More information about additional community, county, and state resources for residents impacted by COVID-19 is available here: http://www.seattle.gov/covid-19. If you still have questions, please call 206-684-CITY.