Missourians, Food Banks Face Inflation, Supply-Chain Issues
Supply-chain issues, inflation and job loss during the pandemic have put many families' food security
In Missouri, hunger remains higher than pre-pandemic levels. Recent census surveys show 8% of households in the state are considered food insecure, and it jumps to ten % for households with children.
Katie Adkins, director of communication and marketing at the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, said it has been important for food-support networks to stay flexible and adaptable.
"We did see an increase in people who were using food bank services for the first time throughout the pandemic," Adkins observed. "There were a lot of people who might have only needed help once, but we did see new folks or different folks coming in to get help from our partner agencies."
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, food prices overall have increased 6.8% since November 2020. Prices for meat, poultry, fish and eggs have risen more than 12%, and they're up 4% for fresh produce.
Adkins noted the Food Bank worked to find ways to get the most help to the communities in need, from "buddy packs" and school pantry programs for children, to "veterans packs" and food boxes for seniors.
"Especially during a pandemic, when seniors may be concerned about going to the grocery store, we were able to adapt in a way that helps those seniors get their boxes," Adkins recounted. "So they could feel safe during the pandemic and not expose themselves to COVID."
She added the Food Bank also launched more mobile pantries, and has programs to help people enroll in the federal government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which has seen an increase of seven million people receiving benefits between 2019 and 2021.