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US food banks become latest victim of inflation

By HENG WEILI in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2022-12-01 07:34

Community volunteers prepare fruit at the Houston Food Bank facility in the Texas city on Feb 8, 2022. [PHOTO by BRANDON BELL/GETTY IMAGES]

The rising price of food is being felt not only by households in the United States, but also at food banks across the country looking to help the less fortunate.

"The story of 2022 is inflation, the inflationary food prices," Katie Fitzgerald, chief operating officer at Feeding America, a nonprofit overseeing more than 200 food banks across the US, told USA Today.

Among Feeding America's food banks, about 40 percent are running at a deficit trying to supply enough food.

"And that is just not sustainable," she said in an interview.

In New Jersey, people are having to cope with high food prices, while also dealing with soaring housing and fuel costs.

Carlos Rodriguez, president and CEO of Community FoodBank of New Jersey, said he has seen at least a 15 percent increase in demand over the last year, with a 40 percent rise in early summer, news site NJ reported.

"Unfortunately, the truth is that for many of the households that are at risk of being food insecure or food insecure, rent eats first," said Rodriguez, adding that he has seen "exorbitant" three-digit rental increases.

"You have to pay (for) your house, otherwise your life gets even more complicated than having to sacrifice the nutritional value of your food. Or as a parent, go without food so you can feed your children."

In New Jersey, an estimated 657,000 people — including more than 175,000 children — were food insecure in 2020, NJ reported citing state data.

Fred Wasiak, president and CEO of the Food Bank of South Jersey, said before the pandemic, the nonprofit served about 47,000 people monthly. Now, it is about 100,000.

"When the food prices and the gas prices jump, the people at the lowest levels obviously have no extra wiggle room in their budget to cover that kind of expense," he told NJ. "So, I think that coming in for food, for a hot meal, coming in for food bags is where people make it."

For the last 25 years, Liz Gomez has worked at the Alameda County Community Food Bank in Oakland, California.

"Back when I started, it was known that Thanksgiving month was the busiest time for food banks," she told CBS Bay Area. "Now, every month is busy for food banks."

Before the pandemic, her food bank distributed about 2.5 million pounds of food each month. It is now 4.5 million.

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