Philadelphia food banks withstanding increased need and rising costs
Philadelphia food banks are scrambling to manage an increase in need and inflated food prices this holiday season.
Why it matters: More than 16% of Philadelphians are food insecure, lacking consistent and reliable access to enough meals, according to the latest 2018 data. But the figure could be as high as 21.2% because of the pandemic.
- The demand for assistance is only expected to grow this winter.
The big picture: Inflation — which is at a 30-year high — and supply chain issues are fueling a rise in prices for goods across the country.
- The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increased by 11.9%, compared to last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- The index for beef jumped 20% and pork rose 14%, the largest yearly increase since December 1990.
Zoom in: Philabundance, which serves at least 135,000 people per week, originally budgeted to spend about $120,000 per month for food before the pandemic hit. But by the end of fiscal year 2020, the hunger relief nonprofit spent more than $500,000 per month.
- Prices have only skyrocketed from there. The nonprofit spent a total of $10.5 million in fiscal year 2021. It expects to pay $14.9 million for FY 2022.
- Philabundance told Axios its fresh fruit freight is getting too expensive. The company is looking for other vendors to work with.
Meanwhile, Share Food Program said it's seeing a 30% increase in food spending compared to last year.
- The organization also went from serving 700,000 people in the Philadelphia region per month to 1 million.
- Spokesperson Jessica Bautista told Axios beef has become the most expensive item to obtain, while non food-related items like cat litter and household cleaners are also getting pricier.
What they're saying: Bautista said that the lack of additional emergency sources of food and federal coronavirus assistance, like the Farmers to Families Food Box Program that ended in May, "presents its challenges."
- Philabundance CEO Loree Jones told Axios they organization is ordering food "well in advance" to address food supply issues. She said they're looking ahead anywhere from six months to a year.
More Philadelphia stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Philadelphia.