With food prices climbing to unprecedented levels, and severe supply chain troubles, food banks across the United States are struggling to feed families. Many Americans are frustrated with the soaring costs of food, but for families who already experience “food insecurity,” increased uncertainty is making their lives even more stressful.
AP News reports, “Supply chain disruptions, lower inventory and labor shortages have all contributed to increased costs for charities on which tens of millions of people in the U.S. rely on for nutrition. Donated food is more expensive to move because transportation costs are up, and bottlenecks at factories and ports make it difficult to get goods of all kinds.”
According to the chief operating officer of the nonprofit Feeding America, Katie Fitzgerald, food banks expanded in response to the increased demands that resulted from the pandemic. Some food banks are making substitutions or stocking smaller sizes of food products such as canned goods.
The Alameda County Community Food Bank in Oakland from the San Francisco Bay Area is reportedly spending an additional $60,000 a month on food costs, and $1 million a month to distribute 4.5 million pounds of food. Before the pandemic, however, they were spending just a quarter of that price for 2.5 million pounds of food. Oakland food bank’s Director of Community Engagement, Michael Altfest, explained that “the cost of canned green beans and peaches is up nearly 9% for them; [canned] tuna and frozen tilapia up more than 6%; and a case of 5-pound frozen chickens for holiday tables is up 13%. The price for dry oatmeal has climbed 17%.”
In Colorado Springs, at the Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, CEO Lynne Telford shares the staggering statistic that the cost of a truckload of peanut butter is up 80% from two years ago, mac and cheese is up 19% from one year ago, and ground beef went up 5% in just three months.
The vice president of sales for Transnational Foods Inc., Bryan Nichols, shared that “[an] average container coming from Asia prior to COVID would cost about $4,000. Today, that same container is about $18,000.”
“It’s unclear to what extent other concurrent government aid, including an expanded free school lunch program in California and an increase in benefits for people in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, will offset rising food prices. An analysis by the Urban Institute think tank in Washington, D.C. found that while most households are expected to receive sufficient maximum benefits for groceries, a gap still exists in 21 percent of U.S. rural and urban counties,” according to AP News.
Families across the country are worried about being able to put food on the table on any given day, let alone the upcoming holidays. According to Feeding America, “42 million people may face hunger in the U.S. — including more than 13 million children.” They add, “Hunger knows no boundaries — it touches every community in the U.S., including your own.”