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Inflation drives up the need for food pantry services

Posted at 10:07 PM, Jun 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-02 11:50:58-04

WACO, Texas — The number of people visiting food pantries has increased at the start of the pandemic.

While it's stayed slightly higher for the two years following, inflation has caused those numbers to once again skyrocket.

"What we've done this year in 5 months is equal to ten months last year," Shepherd's Heart Executive Director Robert Gager said. "It has doubled. We've seen it coming and coming. It's like a snowball, it keeps getting bigger."

Gager said they're seeing many people for the first time as inflation impacts families who may not have needed the assistance a few months ago.

"We are seeing people that say 'I have a job, my husband has a job, but we just don't have enough money to take care of our bills and feed our kids,'" Gager said.

Food pantry workers including Alicia Jallah from Belton's Helping Hands Ministry said they expect the need for their services to continue to increase.

"We're seeing the need increase week by week and we're only expecting it to get worse as summer progresses, kids are home, utility bills are going to be higher because it's so hot outside. We're just going to see more and more households needing our assistance," Jallah said.

As more people turn to food pantries, those pantries are now turning back to the community to help them keep their shelves stocked.

"Because we serve so many people each week, it just takes a whole lot of food to be able to meet the need in our area," Jallah said. "Our neighbors and community have always showed out and really supported us. It's just another way and another opportunity for them to come and help us feed the need here."

The 25 News 'Feed the Need' summer food drive kicked off on Wednesday. Donations can be made through June 17th.

"That's how they directly help the community," Gager said. "By giving to us, we give it right back to the community."