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Food pantries experiencing extremely high demand this holiday season

More people in Wisconsin are turning to food pantries for help as inflation pushes up food prices. % is up.

Suzanne Becker is Executive Director of Feed My People Food Bank, which serves 14 Midwest Wisconsin counties. Rising costs are causing many people to turn to food banks for the first time, she said.

“Imagine that your family used to be able to get by, but suddenly you have to pay more to fill your car with fuel or buy regular groceries. “There are really more families who never had to ask for help before,” she said.

Feed My People’s client base has steadily increased throughout 2022 and is expected to serve 18% more people this year than last year, Becker said.

This is a problem experienced by food banks statewide and nationally.

Chris Kane is Senior Director of Client Services for the Saint Vincent de Paul Society in Madison. Today, the organization serves approximately 2,400 people each month. Before the pandemic, that number was close to 1,500 for him.

“The demand right now has never been higher,” he said.

The last few years have been a “roller coaster” in terms of demand, Kain said. When the pandemic started his spring of 2020, the need for food surged. But then in 2021, it dropped to the lowest level Kane remembers. He believes this is part of America’s bailout plan and is due to the child tax credit, which is only valid in 2021.

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“It put money in the pockets of people who really needed it at the time,” he said. “And the pantry utilization was the lowest I’ve ever seen.”

Now that the tax credit is over, the need has more or less doubled, Kane said.

Kain said the price hikes hitting families are also hitting food banks. In a typical month, society spends about $15,000 to buy food for distribution. Now they spend from he $25,000 to he $30,000.

So while food drives are “great,” he said, they only make up a tiny fraction of the food that society distributes. rice field.

“Buying in bulk is probably a better deal than buying it at the grocery store for most people,” he said. “So a little bit of your money goes to donations, and we appreciate both.”

Despite this year’s difficulties, Becker said anyone in need of food should reach out to their local food bank.

“If you know someone who is in need or has never had to ask for help before, call the food bank,” she said. Let’s move on to hopefully a better tomorrow.”