Southwest Florida food banks feeling the pressure of rising food costs

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Harry Chapin Food Bank
Harry Chapin Food Bank (Credit: WINK News)

Southwest Florida food banks are feeling the pressure of rising food costs as more people need help feeding their families.

The people at the Harry Chapin Food Bank and those at the Salvation Army and Saint Matthew’s House say demand is up because people are struggling to pay for food themselves.

Joseph Michael Smith is at his wit’s end between gas prices, rising costs in grocery stores, and skyrocketing rent.

He’s a regular at Harry Chapin’s food giveaways because he has no choice

“How can we solve this problem? Prices going up. Food is going up and everything else. How are we supposed to survive?” said Smith.

As Arden Ailes picks up food from Harry Chapin, she wonders the same thing.

“I live on social security, and it is very difficult just for myself,” said Ailes.

While food banks say there are dealing with a surge due to inflation, they’re not yet at the levels they saw during COVID-19’s peak.

“We are seeing people whose previous experience didn’t include having to go and ask for help with food,” said Richard Leber, president and CEO of the Harry Chapin Food Bank.

Leber said demand went up 20-30% in the last couple of months.

It’s a different story for Saint Matthew’s House.

“We saw the pandemic tears and now we are seeing the inflation tears,” said Lorna McLain, director of the food assistance program at St. Matthew’s House. “During the pandemic, we were probably seeing about 18 to 20,000 families. Right now we are still 20 to 25,000 families each month so it has gone up significantly. It is not 100 or 200 families. It is by the thousands.”

Some of those thousands in line for the first time, just hoping relief comes soon

“I just kind of reassure them that it is ok that we are here to help and that it is a rough time and a lot of families are coming through this line and hopefully it won’t last long,” said McLain.

The Salvation Army is also feeling the pinch. The church handed out 50 tons of food in April.

“I think the biggest challenge right now is just getting the food that we need because of the shortage is that are there,” said Carlyle Gargis Major, area commander with the Salvation Army.

With demand only increasing, Harry Chapin needs cash donations to keep pace.

“I think we are in for a tough time. I think what we are seeing with this inflation is not going to suddenly go away,” said Leber.

If you would like to donate to the Harry Chapin Food Bank, you can do so on their website. You can also learn about how you can volunteer by clicking here. If you want to donate food to the Harry Chapin Food Bank, you can learn more about doing that by clicking here.

If you would like to support the Salvation Army, you can donate money by clicking here, or learn about donating goods by clicking here.

You can also support St. Matthew’s House by clicking here. They also support food donations, you can learn more about how to donate to them here. If you would like to volunteer with St. Matthew’s House, you can learn more about how by clicking here.

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