Nov 24, 2021 - News

Inflation hits local food banks where it hurts

Illustration of an senior citizen holding a small bag of groceries

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Local food banks are struggling with the strain of backed-up supply chains, inflated grocery prices and increasing gas costs.

Driving the news: Central Texas Food Bank is on track to spend $1 million per month in November and December — up from $100,000 monthly on average pre-pandemic, food bank officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: Demand for assistance at the Central Texas Food Bank is expected to spike over the holidays.

Context: The inflation troubles are happening against a background of pandemic-related food demand.

Remember those long queues of cars with folks desperate for provisions during the early months of the pandemic?

  • In an average year, the food bank serves 43 million meals. Last fiscal year, the food bank served 54 million meals, per CTFB spokesperson Paul Gaither.

And each of those is now more expensive to assemble.

  • Inflation is at a 30-year high, and price indexes for meats, poultry, fish and eggs increased 11.9% over the past 12 months. The index for beef rose by 20.1% and pork by 14.1%, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Of note: About 1 in 7 people — and 1 in 5 kids — are food insecure in the 21 counties the Central Texas Food Bank serves.

What they're saying: "Even though the demand for our services has come down some from the wild peaks we saw during the worst stages of the pandemic and the winter storms, we're still serving about 26% more clients than we did prior to the pandemic," Gaither tells Axios.

How to help: "The best way for folks to help is with monetary donations, as that gives us the most flexibility to purchase what we need, when we need it," Gaither says. "We can turn each dollar donated into four meals for those in need."

  • "And during the holidays, we have some matching gifts that will double the impact of folks' donations so that each dollar they donate will allow us to provide eight meals," Gaither adds.

Volunteer opportunities — and food distribution spots — can be found at Gaither says the food bank is looking for volunteers after the new year.


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