Neighbors in need: Inflation squeezes Minnesota food banks
It's been months since someone donated meat to Second Harvest Heartland.
Why it matters: The gift gap illustrates the challenges food banks in Minnesota and beyond are facing as inflation and supply chain issues put new pressures on budgets and inventory after two-plus years of unprecedented demand for assistance.
- At the same time, rising prices on everything from gas to groceries is driving up the need for assistance throughout the community.
The big picture: More than 430,000 Minnesotans — that's one in 13 of our neighbors — go hungry, according to Feeding America.
- Among children, the ratio drops to one in nine.
State of aid: Costs at Second Harvest, which provides the vast majority of deliveries to food shelves in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, are up 9% year over year, a spokesperson tells Axios. Food donations are down.
- Plus: Supply chain disruptions are making it harder to secure hearty, nutritious essentials, including peanut butter and meat.
What they're saying: Nonprofit leaders say the number of Minnesotans needing grocery help "will only go up" in the face of rising prices and the end of more pandemic assistance programs.
- "We need the community to stick with us — pitching in time or money to help — until we find ourselves on more solid ground," Second Harvest Heartland CEO Allison O'Toole tells Axios in a statement.
Zoom in: Demand for aid at CAPI, a local nonprofit that serves mainly immigrants and refugees, remains about double what it was before the pandemic.
- But costs and shortages are now making it difficult for the food pantry to procure rice and other culturally-specific staples, Paul Andrighetti, the group's director of basic needs, tells Axios.
Zoom out: Advocates elsewhere are coming up with creative ways to provide more community food access in tight financial times.
- In Philadelphia, a trio of food justice activists revived a restaurant that closed during the pandemic with a focus on keeping prices low, Axios' Taylor Allen reports.
The bottom line: Three years into the pandemic, recovery is uneven at best. Our neighbors still need our help.
🎧 Go deeper: Listen to dispatches on inflation and food insecurity issues across the country via this morning's Axios Today podcast.
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