It’s a chicken-and-egg problem: More Quad City residents rely on food pantries as inflation rises and food becomes harder to put on the table. But inflation is also causing fewer people to donate food.
Food stores in NorthPark and SouthPark, which are fed by River Bend Food Bank, saw a 60% increase in needs over the previous year.
“There has been a need in recent years,” said Jenny Colvin, the manager, but it wasn’t as important as it is now.
“Donations are down as well, because a lot of our donations come from retailers and manufacturing partners,” she said. “In the stores, they have less food on the shelves, so they have less to donate to us. Then that flow effect translates into less food in our food bank.”
Nationwide, grocery prices have skyrocketed. According to CNBC, the price of fresh fruit has increased by 10% and the cost of fresh vegetables by nearly 6%.
Reduced SNAP benefits, increased costs in gas, utilities, and the like may be why the number of donations is lower than the average year.
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“We still had our support, but it definitely waned,” she said.
To make up for the lack of donations, Colvin said the bank now has to buy more food than ever before. The bank is able to buy food at a fraction of the wholesale cost, but Colvin said a 17% jump in the price put another pressure on the food bank.
With 23 serving districts between Illinois and Iowa, this is just another hurdle. She said supply chain issues also caused a problem. Food orders are placed, but not always fulfilled due to the suppliers not having the items in stock.
To make up for the lack of donations, Colvin said the bank is now looking at ways to raise more money to pay for the extra food to make up for the extra need. On a typical basis, the warehouse holds about 2 million pounds of food. She said this was gone within four to five weeks.
Donations are accepted at any time, and the store makes a conscious effort to have a variety of foods on hand. This includes perishable food, fresh foods, and culturally relevant choices as well.