Food pantries are feeling squeezed by inflation, just like those they serve

Amanda Peacher Nov 16, 2021
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Food Bankers distribute food and other items to Bronx residents in New York City. Inflation has affected how food pantries are distributing to people. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

Food pantries are feeling squeezed by inflation, just like those they serve

Amanda Peacher Nov 16, 2021
Heard on:
Food Bankers distribute food and other items to Bronx residents in New York City. Inflation has affected how food pantries are distributing to people. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City
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We’ve been talking a lot the past couple weeks about inflation, and how it’s showing up in higher food prices when we shop for groceries.

Those higher food costs are also hitting food pantries and food banks. Both are still dealing with high demand for food assistance, which was up by 55% during the first 12 months of the pandemic.

Food pantries are serving a broader range of clients these days.   

“We’re seeing a lot of middle-income people,” said Pastor Joe Young, who runs a food bank in Charleston, Mississippi. “They’ll say, Brother Joe, I’ve never asked anyone for anything.”

Inflation has led a lot of people to this point. Since October of last year, the price of milk has climbed more than 8%. A cartoon of a dozen eggs is up nearly 30%. Food banks are having to make hard choices.  

“So we’re not purchasing ground beef,” said Susannah Morgan, runs the Oregon Food Bank. She also factors in more than the price of food. 

“We’re not bringing sweet potatoes from Georgia to Oregon, because the cost of transportation is so high,” she said.

So are labor costs. Jayson Lusk, an agricultural economist at Purdue, said he doesn’t see elevated wages at meat processing plants, for example, going down anytime soon.  

“And so until we can sort those things out, I don’t think we’ll return to normal,” he said.

And while grocery prices stay high, normal will look different to many people for some time. 

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