Almost half of the nation’s food banks are reporting an increase in the number of people who have been visiting pantries as runaway inflation has put groceries out of reach for those with limited incomes, according to a report.
Of the 200 food banks surveyed, some 45% of them saw more people ask for services, according to data from Feeding America.
Inflation surged 9.1% in June compared to the same period last year – a clip not seen in four decades.
Soaring consumer prices for basic foodstuffs like corn, rice, milk, juice and butter have forced many Americans to turn to pantries.
The price of gasoline is up 60% compared with a year ago, while cereal costs 15% more than it did last year.
Meat and poultry is 10.4% more expensive now than it was at this time last year while fruits and vegetables are 8.1% costlier, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“With food costs rising at their fastest rate in decades, we’re seeing many families that were already barely keeping their heads above water are now increasingly and more frequently relying on food pantries,” Jilly Stephens, the CEO of City Harvest, told DailyMail.com
Stephens said that 90% of her recipients were expected to rely more on handouts this year due to the record levels of inflation.
Pat Young, a 64-year-old retired home care nurse, said she was forced to ask for assistance from St. John’s Bread and Life Program in Brooklyn because she was unable to afford groceries on her disability benefits.
“It really has become a challenge just to eat healthily and get by,” she told Dailymail.com.
The pantry in Brooklyn provides her with weekly packages of milk, corn, canned fruit, juice, rice and beans.
“You’d be surprised how many more people are eligible to use the pantry,” Young said.
“Because the economy is so bad, even lots of working people fit into the low socioeconomic bracket.”
Ginette Bott, the president of Utah Food Bank, said that inflation was having as profound an effect as the COVID-19 pandemic. Bott told DailyMail.com that the economic hardships had “stretched our clients’ budgets even tighter.”
The higher fuel costs were sending her energy bills skyward, “squeezing both sides of the emergency food assistance equation,” she said.