Food banks call for volunteer help amid rising costs, high demand
As many as 42 million people in the US could be facing food insecurity in 2021
As families deal with rising grocery costs, local food assistance programs have been similarly affected by high prices.
The nation’s food banks are now struggling with inflation, fueled by the global supply chain crisis. It comes at the same time demand has increased just before the holiday season.
At the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, volunteers will distribute more than 1 million pounds of food each week in November to meet the growing need.
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"We gear up for the holidays months in advance and they are upon. The fact is the need for emergency food has never been higher than it has been during the pandemic," said Kristin Warzocha, the organization’s president and CEO.
Warzocha explained prices have soared for even the most essential foods.
"This year we ordered six truckloads of turkeys; the cost of every turkey is up 20%. Things like peanut butter, a staple for families across our community and a staple that we distribute at the food banks, is up 40%," Warzocha said. "We had orders that were canceled at the last minute, we had orders that were bought out from under us from someone paying more."
Brian Greene, president and CEO of the Houston Food Bank, told Fox News the cost to store and transport food has also increased.
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"It isn't just the food, we also go through thousands of boxes a week and those costs have gone up significantly, pallets have doubled, just the equipment we use has been harder to get and it's more expensive," Green said.
As many as 42 million people, including 13 million children, in the U.S. could face food insecurity in 2021 according to Feeding America, a network of more than 200 food banks across the country.
To meet the demand, food banks across the country have been forced to adapt.
"That could be working with brand substitutions, working with our vendors to alter delivery times," said Catherine Shick, a spokesperson for FeedMore Western New York. "We are trying everything in our power to be as flexible as we can to maximize our cost savings."
In Houston, Greene is also encouraging volunteers to pitch in as they did before the pandemic.
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"Most of our labor is done by volunteers this is true of Houston Food Bank and it's true of Feeding America food banks in general. Now the pandemic was a real blow to the volunteer pool, people are starting to come back so we’re really trying to get people to come back because we’ve got a lot of work to do," said Greene.
One resource to find your local food bank is FeedingAmerica.org.