Increasing food costs, inflation put stress on NC food banks

Local News

RALEIGH N.C. (WNCN) – Increasing food prices are not just putting a dent in your grocery bill, but it’s also impacting multiple central North Carolina food banks and charities.

Carter Crain, with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, said they have a goal of giving out more than 100 million pounds of food by the end of this year, that’s still higher than pre-pandemic operations.

“A lot of prices have gone up which means that people need more help,” Crain said. “Our agencies that are purchasing food or the people that are purchasing food, their dollars aren’t stretching like they used to.”

New national data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows food costs have increased by more than 5 percent in just a year.

While major food banks rely mostly on donations, the food that they do buy is coming in two to four weeks longer than usual.

“Longer lead-times, more expensive products. We’re buying a little bit less and waiting a little longer for it,” Crain said.

Nick Robertson with Urban Ministries of Wake County said he both receives donations from the food bank and buys fresh meat to distribute directly to families he works with.

“With supply chain disruptions not only are you missing items, the costing more so we have to pay more. Naturally, that’s going to put a struggle on everybody,” Robertson said.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports the price for meats, poultry, fish and eggs increased by nearly 12 percent over the past year.

“Chicken is like very, very expensive right now,” Robertson said.

Melvin Acosta, vice president of operations for the Interfaith Food Shuttle, said his organization recently turned to commercial grocery stores to fill orders that did not arrive on time.

He said putting together holiday meals could be harder to come by this year, but it’s not stopping them from trying.

“We can’t get full turkeys right now,” Acosta said.

On top of inflation’s impacts, most food pantries are also still giving out more food than before as needs increased during the pandemic.

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC said community partners are still seeing a 35 percent increase in people in need than before.

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