Food banks feeling the pinch of high inflation as centers juggle increased demand for help

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More families are turning to food banks nationwide, as groceries and other bills are becoming more expensive.

But as these food banks work to meet this demand, some centers are also feeling the pinch of higher food.

Feeding America runs about 200 food banks nationwide. The organization said first it was supply chain issues affecting their inventory and now it’s high inflation.

Feeding America staff said the same high prices we see in the grocery store are impacting them as well.

“We need to purchase more food because we’re getting less food donated and then we’re seeing more people coming to us for help because of the high costs of food,” said Zuani Villarreal, Senior Director of Communications at Feeding America.

In a recent survey, Feeding America said about 80 percent of food banks are reporting either the same level of demand or an increase compared to the month before.

But Villarreal said one thing that hasn’t changed is the reasons for the demand.

“The stories we hear are a lot of tradeoffs, it is a lot of desperation, and it is a lot of frustration,” said Villarreal. “Many families will pay one bill one month, delay other bills so that they can still have money left over for food, and it’s just that game of paying this bill this month, the next one catching up on that.”

As high inflation continues, Feeding America staff tell me they want the federal government to figure out better ways to cut down on food waste.

“There’s billions and billions of pounds of food that go to waste every year. If we had the will, if we had the commitments and the infrastructure in place, we could rescue that food,” said Villarreal.

This issue is also top of mind for the Biden administration as the White House prepares to host a Hunger, Nutrition, and Health summit later this month.

Feeding America says September is Hunger Action month and they are encouraging people who can to donate supplies or their time.