SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — According to Feeding America, 38 million people are currently facing food insecurity. Now with supply chain disruptions increasing produce prices, the issue is being exacerbated.
Local food banks are feeling the impact, especially ahead of the holiday season, which is a busy time of year for them.
“It has really impacted a lot of things that we receive from grocery stores and a lot of the different foods we get in in food drives,” says Mary Jane Crouch, the executive director for America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia.
According to the Department of Labor Statistics, the U.S. saw a big rise in food prices from September 2019 to September 2021. Items such as meat, poultry, fish and eggs saw some of the biggest increases, going up roughly 10.5 percent.
“It’s really impacting what seniors that are living on very fixed incomes have, it’s impacting what families are able to provide for their children,” says Crouch.
Salvation Army is also seeing an increased need.
“We’re seeing a bit of an increase of folks that are needing food,” says Major Paul Egan of the Salvation Army of Savannah.
Now, more people are seeking help — some for the very first time.
“People time and time again that tell us, ‘I’ve never been,’ ‘I used to do food drives for you,’ ‘I used to help you,’ ‘I used to donate and right now we’re struggling,’ ‘We’re struggling to make sure our kids have food at night,'” Crouch says.
COVID-19 caused food insecurity to increase nationwide and now increasing food prices are exacerbating the issue.
“Back in ’19, we provided over 19 million pounds of food, and then last year with the pandemic we did around 26 million,” says Crouch. “We thought, well, it will level back off. This year, we’re gonna provide over 29 million pounds of food to the community.”
Now, as food pantries prepare for the holidays, price increases are having an even bigger impact.
“When you look at the price of a turkey and the sides and you know that they’ve gone up sometimes 20 to 30 percent, you’re not gonna be able to do as much, you’re not gonna be able to provide as many as you were able to provide in past years,” Crouch says.
Second Harvest provides turkeys to families and individuals every Thanksgiving — this year they say the cost of turkey was much higher than it’s been in previous years.
For information on how you can help families in need this holiday season, visit wsav.com/thanksgiving.