Food banks have more mouths to feed, but not enough supply

For food banks across the country right now, supply chain issues, rising fuel prices, and inflation are making it difficult for them to feed people in need.

This is happening as they are seeing more and more people showing up for help.

“We’re struggling each month to make sure we get enough food in to meet the demand,” said Stephen Shelley, CEO of Farm Share.

Shelley said his food bank and others like it across the country are in critical need of support.

That’s because right now, they are seeing an increase in the number of mouths to feed and a decrease in supplies.

“Our families continue to get hit after hit after hit,” said Paco Velez, president and CEO of Feeding South Florida.

Velez said rising costs for fuel and inflation rates have stretched families thin but it has also made bringing in supplies to feed those families even more expensive.

“Our diesel fuel is over $6 a gallon. We’re having to truck in products from across the country. These donations that come in are now 2, 3, 4 times more expensive,” he said.

Then you add in the ongoing supply chain issues, which mean grocery stores are struggling to keep food on their own shelves, so donations to food banks have tapered off. It all trickles down to families who desperately need the help.

“Their dollars are not stretching as far as they used to stretch so now they’re coming to us to access those items,” Velez said.

The food banks said they did see a brief dip in the number of families coming in when people started to go back to work, but now the numbers are climbing again.

“We’re close to that tipping point as of now that we really do need some assistance to step in to make sure that we do have the resources we need going forward,” Shelley said.

They need help from the federal government and donors to help meet the need.

“At the peak of the pandemic, we were moving about 12 million pounds of food a month. It dropped down to about 6 million pounds at one point and now we’re back over 8 million pounds a month going out the door,” Shelley said. “The local grocery stores don’t have enough on their shelves to even feed people who are coming there, much less having the excess to donate to food banks.”

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