VERONA, Va. (WHSV) – As food prices continue to rise due to inflation, more and more people are turning into food banks for help. The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank has seen the need for its services continually increase over the last year.
The food bank said one major concern is the increasing number of people who are facing food insecurity despite being employed.
“The employment number is up 50% just in the last six months. That tells us that families who are working and still struggling are struggling even more, and, of course, it’s because of inflation,” said Michael McKee, CEO of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.
Moving into the summer the food bank expects to see an even larger increase in people needing its services as children are now out of school.
“Children who were receiving free and reduced meals in schools through the school year are for the most part not able to get access to food during the summer,” said McKee.
“There are summer feeding programs that the government supports, but the requirements are so stringent on non-profits and schools that only 1 out of every 5 children eligible for these programs are able to participate,” he added.
McKee said inflation is just the latest in a troubling trend of increased food insecurity that began with the Great Recession in 2008 and has continued for 14 years.
“We’re talking about really entrenched long-term problems in food security created by rising income inequality, high rents, and other expenses, and certainly more recently the inflation,” he said.
McKee added that the food bank was serving just over half of the number of people it is serving today back in 2008 prior to the recession.
The food bank has also felt the effects of inflation when it purchases food.
“It’s not just five or ten percent across the board. Some staples like pasta for example are up 50 to 60 percent, other items are up 10 or 15 percent from what we were paying last year,” said McKee.
McKee said that the food bank is grateful for the community’s support and donations that have allowed it to maintain its supply despite the rising food costs.
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