Virginia Food Banks Seek Support Amid High Inflation, Supply-Chain Issues
Friday, May 20, 2022
Virginia's food banks are facing a perfect storm of issues. High inflation for everyday goods is driving up food costs for lower-income families, all while food banks are working to overcome supply-chain issues to keep their shelves stocked.
Eddie Oliver, executive director of the Federation of Virginia Food Banks, which oversees seven regional food banks across the state, said since many pandemic stimulus benefits have expired, the financial reserves lower-income families built have started to drop off.
"While families are getting squeezed, they're turning more and more to food banks for assistance," Oliver pointed out. "Meanwhile, our operational expenses are going up. So it's challenging on many fronts."
Oliver noted the best way to support a local food bank is through financial support, which will help them keep up with the surge in grocery prices. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), grocery prices are anticipated to increase between 5% and 6% in 2022.
According to Feeding America, nearly a quarter-million Virginia children are food insecure, and nearly half of households receiving SNAP benefits have children.
On top of the supply-chain issues and inflation, Oliver emphasized the end of the school semester also will be an exacerbating factor in the coming weeks.
"School meal access is coming to an end here as schools are about to let out for the summer," Oliver observed. "Meanwhile, we're seeing the highest inflation we've seen in decades, which of course disproportionately impacts low-income families."
The USDA extended free school lunches to kids throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but the program will end at the conclusion of this school year. The Virginia Poverty Law Center reported pre-COVID, more than 460,000 Virginia students received free and reduced-cost school meals daily.
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