UPDATE: COVID-19 Response in the United States

March 31, 2020 (Alexandria, VA) – As a leading Social Services provider with disaster response experience dating back to Hurricane Galveston in 1900, The Salvation Army is uniquely positioned and prepared to serve communities in need. Our COVID-19 response remains twofold: 1) responding to the COVID-19 emergency and 2) maintaining and expanding our social services program in a COVID-19 environment.


Food/Meal Distribution
Emotional and Spiritual Care (ESC)
Child Care
Essential Items
Quarantine Support
Senior Care
Social Services


Presently, our most critical and primary service delivery is serving the most vulnerable populations in our facilities and communities. As we plan for the long-term recovery phase of this crisis, we anticipate a projected increase in financial assistance (rent/utilities/food) for individuals and families adversely impacted economically.

Serving the Homeless Population – The Salvation Army is a leading provider for individuals and families that are experiencing homelessness. They are considered at-risk and vulnerable because many have compromised immune systems and communal living does not always afford us the same protections as independent living. Prior to COVID-19, we sheltered 200,000 individuals each week. During the day, most shelters would have a decrease in individuals as they would leave for employment, appointments, and school. Since this pandemic, everyone is remaining in these shelters, which has increased the need for more meals and staffing. This increased staffing and programming needed has developed a unique and challenging operation. We are partnering with local and state emergency management agencies to keep our shelters open 24/7, as well as stand up new shelters for individuals who have contracted the virus.

Financial Assistance – While many local communities are encouraging utility companies and landlords to not shut down service or evict the tenants, these bills will eventually come due and the demand for rent/utility/food assistance is projected to increase substantially. The Salvation Army is finding ways to offer cash and vouchers to support families and individuals when we transition into long term recovery.

Service Highlights
Partnering with school districts to support PODs of meals for school students Expanding to 24 hour sheltering for the homeless
Establishing emotional spiritual care hotlines to provide comfort to individuals
Supporting migrant workers impacted by cancellation of social events
Offering our facilities as quarantine sites in partnership with emergency management

Feeding Programs
School-aged feeding programs – in at least 13 states
Homeless feeding programs – in at least 12 states
Feeding at quarantined facilities – in at least 3
Food delivery programs – in at least 20 states
Drive through or to-go meal programs
Food box distribution – in at least 32 states

Statistics (this is a partial report as many divisions are pending)
Meals – 135,910
Drinks – 128,832
Snacks – 75,773
ESC Contacts – 13,930
Hygiene Kits – 6,424
Food Boxes – 90,936
Nights of Lodging – 14,957


The Salvation Army has Emergency Disaster Services personnel in nearly all local and state emergency management agencies, as well as at the FEMA National Response Coordination Center. In collaboration with our local, state, federal and National VOAD partners, we are coordinating service delivery and filling gaps. The Salvation has 7,600 centers of operations in nearly every zip code which allows us to use our facilities such as camps, warehouses, shelters and thrift stores to support the whole-community response. Our efforts include:

▪ Providing feeding at quarantine sites
▪ Serving as the lead Agency for Mass Care in Chicago
▪ Providing supplies to the National Guard
▪ Offering warehouse space to state EOCs and feeding partners
▪ Designated state lead for donations management in Arizona







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