Inflation takes bite out of food banks

The Arizona Food Bank Network (AzFBN) is trying to manage the effects of rising inflation as it strives to make every Arizona citizen “food secure,” which means ensuring every citizen has access to enough safe and nutritious food for an active, healthy life at all times. 

The national inflation rate is 8.5% as of March, but is even higher in metro Phoenix, reaching nearly 11% — and rapidly accelerating housing costs account for much of that spike.

According to AzFBN, Arizona’s largest database of food banks in the state, “One in seven Arizonans struggle with hunger,” which is a total of 937,000 people, 311,390 of whom are children.

The rise of inflation has made it a struggle to make ends meet for basic necessities such as food and travel for many Arizonans, creating a supply and demand issue for food banks. The amount of help and donations needed have increased while the willingness to help and donate has decreased. 

Interfaith Community Services has experienced an approximately 20% increase in the families visiting their food banks compared to last year. They see an average of 100 families per morning. 

“We are always in need of extra food here because we are seeing more people and because of the higher food prices, we are also seeing that it’s hard for us to purchase as much food as we have been able to in the past. So those donations are critical at this time,” said Tim Kromer, director of outreach and partnerships at Interfaith Community Services. 

The Maricopa Food Pantry has also experienced a significant loss because of a fire causing them to lose 40,000 pounds of canned goods. 

There have been several efforts made to assist local food banks through this difficult time.

At the beginning of the year, Bank of America announced that it would make a $100 donation for each of its employees in Phoenix who would voluntarily report having received a Covid-19 vaccine or booster shot. Bank of America donated $275,000 to local food banks within Arizona last February, providing the equivalent of 1.8 million meals through their booster initiative.

The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona was able to raise $103,005 through Arizona Gives, a platform where citizens can donate to nonprofit organizations within the state. The funds raised on Arizona Gives Day, April 5, will be matched which will double the funding received on that day. 

Nalani Sommer

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