As seen on The New York Times in the article “More Americans Are Going Hungry, and It Costs More to Feed Them.” Click here to read it.
The increase in food insecurity is not about a sudden wave of joblessness as it was when the economy ground to a halt in 2020 in the first wave of the pandemic. It is about inflation — higher prices for housing, gas and especially food. According to the last report on consumer prices, the cost of food increased 10.4 percent from a year earlier, the largest 12-month increase since 1981.
Feeding America, the largest network of food banks in the country, which helps supply the smaller frontline pantries where customers pick up food, said 65 percent of member organizations surveyed had reported an increase from May to June in the number of people served. Just 5 percent reported a decline.
At the same time, cash donations, a huge help at the start of the pandemic, are down. In the first quarter of the year, revenue for the national office fell nearly a third from a year earlier, to $107 million from $151 million
“You’re in the middle of a battle, and people are leaving the field,” Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, the chief executive of Feeding America, said in an interview. On visits to food banks, she said, “I walk into freezers that don’t have very much food in them.”
Feeding America’s network includes 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs. Over the four months for which data is most recently available, February to May, 73 percent of Feeding America’s food banks surveyed said food donations were down, with 94 percent saying the cost of food purchases had increased and 89 percent saying they were paying more for transportation to acquire or deliver food.