US food banks strain under increased demand – media

Soaring food costs drive more Americans into breadlines

Food banks across the US are struggling as the demand for their services to feed Americans in need soars amid record inflation, Fox News reported on Saturday, citing Atlanta Community Food Bank CEO Kyle Waid.

It’s kind of a perfect storm of higher demand, higher cost to operate, less federal support. That’s really putting a lot of pressure on food banks, food pantries across the country,” Waid told the news outlet.

According to him, the demand at the food bank he represents dropped last year when Covid-19 pandemic shutdowns were lifted and people returned to work, but has started rising again over the past couple of months.

We’re seeing folks who are turning to food pantries for the first time in their lives. The inflationary environment has really put a lot of pressure on them. These are folks that are used to being on the other side of the line helping to pass out food to people in need rather than being in the line themselves,” Waid said.

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Recent media reports suggest that Atlanta is not alone in facing increased demand for free food. The Meridian Foodbank in Boise, Idaho reported this week that it is now serving 4,200 people every month, compared with 2,800 the same time last year. The Allentown Area Ecumenical Food Bank in Pennsylvania said on Thursday that “since October, we’ve tripled the number of families we’re serving every month,” while roughly 300 of the 1,800 families it fed in July were first-timers.

Alameda Foodbank in California said recently that it was serving more than 1,400 families a day last month, while in January this year, only 890 households were in need of its services daily. Earlier this month, AP reported of hundreds of families lined up in a breadline outside St Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix, Arizona. The food bank said at the time that its distribution center served 4,271 families in one week, up 78% from the same time last year.

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According to Waid, this surge in demand for food bank services is a direct result of soaring inflation, which hit a 40-year high in June at 9.1%. Food prices alone spiked by 10.4%, according to the Department of Labor. And this puts another strain on food banks: According to the Feeding America website, the same amount of food that food banks across the country bought for distribution before the pandemic now costs 40% more than two years ago.

We’re spending more just to get the same amount of food into our system. We see higher fuel costs for our trucks that are on the road, higher costs for our employees as we’re responding to the same wage pressure that other businesses are responding to,” Waid told Fox News. He stressed that the food bank system is in dire need of government help to support the growing number of Americans facing food insecurity.

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