Apr 1, 2022 - News

Neighbors in need: Inflation squeezes Minnesota food banks

Illustration of an senior citizen holding a small bag of groceries

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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 β€” that's one in 13 of our neighbors β€” 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 β€” pitching in time or money to help β€” 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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