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Food banks struggle as more people face food insecurity

Food banks across the country say they're seeing more visitors than ever, and inflation is the driving force — and Americans' salaries simply can't keep up.

The nonprofit Feeding America says its research shows that Americans’ salaries aren’t keeping up with the price of necessities.

Now, the government numbers say we’re seeing about 1 in 7 people struggling with food insecurity.

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Jen Muzia with the Seattle Ballard Foodbank says running the food bank has become much more expensive. “It’s not only our guests that come in to shop, we’re also seeing it on us as we go to buy food. It’s costing us way more to buy food”, Muzia said.

She says the food bank has had to buy a lot more food to meet demand.

“For us, we are seeing more than double what we saw pre-pandemic. And then we’ve seen even a greater increase when snap benefits were rolled back in February or March”, Muzia said.

A couple of thousand miles away, the Houston, Texas food bank reports similar issues — and not only because food prices are up.

Brian Greene is the President of the Houston Food Bank. He says inflation plays a role in several ways.

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“Food inflation is only running about 3% now, but rent inflation is over 7%. And for low income or working families, rent can account for about 50% or more of their income. So, as those costs are continuing to go up, the money just isn’t going as far, and food tends to be a flexible expense”, Greene said.

The United States Department of Agriculture reports that from 2021 to 2022, 13.5 million more people became food insecure.

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Vince Hall of Feeding America says the increase is due to emergency pandemic support ending.

SURGING INFLATION CAUSES FOOD INSECURITY FOR WORKING FAMILIES AS FOOD BANKS STRUGGLE TO MEET DEMAND

“We estimate that almost 50 million people have visited food banks in the past year seeking help. The Federal and State governments have rolled back nearly all support that was provided for people during the pandemic at the very time that inflation was taking an extra large bite out of their income,” Hall said.

Vince Hall with Feeding America says the only fix is more volunteers and donations.

“They can donate funds, they can donate food, they can donate their time, they can donate their voice and enhance this message of hunger being a solvable problem,” Hall said.

Feeding America says food banks see more traffic during the holidays, but also more volunteers and donations.

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