DENVER – Thanksgiving is over, but food insecurity remains a big concern.
Higher prices at the grocery store have left many families with little choice but to turn to food banks for help.
“Many families are coming to Food Bank of the Rockies for the first time in their lives, people who have never needed help with food assistance,” said Erin Pulling, CEO of Food Bank of the Rockies.
Pulling says inflation is not only taking a toll on families but on the food bank itself.
“The Food Bank of the Rockies is actually getting hit doubly hard by inflation, both with increased need and also because the cost of food that we are purchasing has gone up dramatically,” said Pulling. “Our costs have more than tripled what we were spending a few years ago.”
Pulling says the food bank gets 75% of its food through donations or the USDA.
It purchases the rest, mostly fresh produce.
“We're purchasing as much of that produce locally as possible,” said Pulling.
Pulling says produce staples like cucumbers, potatoes and sweet corn have increased 40% to 70% over the last year.
She expects the challenges caused by inflation to continue through at least the end of the year.
“The inflation that we're seeing is impacting the number of people who are needing food assistance. It's costing the average family more than $450 per month to live than it was one year ago, so you can imagine that we're seeing more people in need, especially over the holiday season than ever before,” said Pulling. “Families have been stretched financially. That isn't going to get any easier through the holiday season.”
According to the USDA, all food prices are expected to rise between 3% and 4 % in 2023.
Pulling says Coloradans have stepped up to help the food bank provide for those most in need and she’s confident that support will continue in the days and weeks ahead.
“Fortunately, we have seen an outpouring of support both from volunteers and donors, recognizing that when they go to the grocery store, their bill costs more and thinking about people who can't provide enough food for their family,” said Pulling.
Pulling says every dollar donated to the Food Bank of the Rockies provides three meals.
To donate to the Food Bank of the Rockies or find volunteer opportunities, visit https://www.foodbankrockies.org/