The staggering hunger crisis in America: How you can help struggling food banks this year

The hunger crisis throughout America is never-ending and by 2023, safety nets that are designed to protect those most vulnerable are seeing an increase in visitors as compared to the previous year.

Food bank officials from across the nation tell USA that their local food banks are helping more people, but using fewer resources, even as the economic demands continue to decimate those budgets people with low incomes Americans as well as services providers alike.

In the wake of pandemic-era government boosts to aid to food have ended in several states families are looking to food banks to fill an gap which seems as if there is no ending in sight. The hunger levels are so severe that food bank chiefs have compared the present situation to previous economic recessions.

“From where I’m sitting, after 28 years of food banking, what we have is the logical result of 40 years of dire economic inequality,” said Susannah Morgan, president of Oregon Food Bank.

Food budgets of banks have been expanding under inflation until 2023. This has led some charities to cut back on food purchases and cut down on their services.

Information released this fall from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicated that that food insecurity was on the rise in 2022, the first time over 10 years.

“This is the worst rate of hunger in my career,” said Morgan who worked in Food banks across Boston, San Francisco and Anchorage, Alaska. “It’s so large, it’s hard to wrap your head around.”

Holidays bring extra pressure

The holidays are when parents, especially mothers are put under more pressure to look after their families, explained Eric Cooper, CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank.

“The last year they’ve been falling behind,” Cooper said. When around 300 families departed from at the San Antonio Food Bank with turkeys during the month of November, he said they were able to feel “reassurance” that they could make memories that were positive on the day of Thanksgiving.

Many parents have the holiday memories of their children that are filled with the scents of gravy and turkey, said Sherrie Tussler who is the CEO of the Wisconsin’s Hunger Task Force food bank network.

“All of us have these memories,” Tussler stated. “We can see our parents cutting the food. We can taste it. We can see our grandma cutting a pie.”

If people aren’t able to afford all the ingredients to make a festive Christmas meal, “that makes you sad – sadder than sad,” she added.

In the background food bank staff and volunteers are under “a lot of pressure at this time of year,” when they rush to purchase Turkeys, as well as other items to meet the nation’s growing food shortage, Tussler said.

“I don’t know if we can keep up,” Morgan declared. “We’re going to keep up for the next six or nine months, but in three years, I don’t know if we can keep up.

What is the best way to donate food?

Giving money or non-perishable food items to food pantries, food banks and soup kitchens within your neighborhood or your community will help increase their budgets and enable them to assist even more individuals, Tussler said.

The more localized the nonprofit is it’s better added in explaining that smaller non-profits have smaller budgets and have less resources.

Close to Fort Myers, Florida, the Gladiolus Food Pantry this month will be seeking donations of frozen turkeys with stuffing, mashed potatoes gravy that is canned or jarred as well as cans of cranberry sauce, green beans, canned corn, and broth made from beef or chicken.

The food pantry provides more than 200 families who live within Lee County once a week. A lot of them are still recovering from the tourism industries jobs that were lost due to the hurricane Ian. Over the course of the month, 40 families have moved in every week, according to the staffer Mary Burns.

“When you go into the supermarket and they’re having a buy-one-get-one, get them. That way you can use one, and donate one,” Burns explained. “Drive around your neighborhood and look for the signs that say, ‘food pantry here on Sunday,’ and see how you can help your neighborhood.”

The pantry is always requires kitchen and food items which people usually would not consider, and items that kids love, Burns said, especially:

  • Kids cereal.
  • Shelf-stable milk doesn’t have to be refrigerated after its opening, as with Parmalat and certain Nut milks.
  • Cooking oil.
  • The peanut butter is jelly and the Peanut Butter.
  • Spices.
  • Tuna.
  • Macaroni-and-cheese.
  • Spaghetti.
  • Can openers.

Local news outlets including newspapers and radio stations, could have stories online that list pantries and food banks within your region. Donating to food pantries at churches is a good way to begin.

The main page of lists tens of thousands of food banks across the nation which users can search for by state or city. The USDA’s website includes more than 250 qualified distributors on this page..

Demand for food banks points to economic issues

Then, in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, Tussler’s 47 food pantries serve as an indicator of economic growth Tussler says.

“Right now, the numbers just look bad,” she declared.

This year in Milwaukee County, food pantries experienced a 50% rise in the number of visits following the extra pandemic-era SNAP allocations were cut off at Wisconsin at the end of March. In the same time frame as well as similar SNAP cut-off, Morgan’s banks in Oregon experienced the same results increase of 50% in the demand, she added.

These increases, in conjunction with pressures from inflation on food banks means that the non-profits find themselves “having to ration the food they provide because they see how long the line is,” Claire Babineaux-Fontenot the CEO of Feeding America, told USA TODAY.

Then, in Oregon, Morgan said she is worried about how long the these patterns will continue until something goes wrong in the system completely.

“I worry about a vicious cycle,” she added. “I worry about 40 years of income inequality hitting a place where it’s very difficult for us to recover from – hitting an irreversible trend.”

Government resources, donations and donations dropped in 2023.

Food bank executives said cash donations from the public increased in 2021 and 2020 during the most severe phase of the pandemic of COVID-19. It was a time where the entire nation gathered to aid those most struggling, Tussler said.

In 2021 and 2020 in 2020 and 2021, stimulus checks as well as the tax credit for children that was expanded have helped reduce poverty within the U.S. to record lows. But as government resources started decreasing by 2022 the poverty rate were reverted back to the reverse direction.

Today, food pantries across the nation have seen a decrease in donations from people because everyone is suffering from the pinch of inflation also, Babineaux Fontenot stated.

In the wake of the national health emergency that will hit in 2020 and 2021 and 2021, the federal government inundated Food banks with items through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation.

It’s as if “there is no additional food coming from the federal government,” Tussler stated that can be “exacerbating some of the challenges we have.”

“It’s the perfect storm of things dragging things down,” Babineaux-Fontenot stated.

The East Coast, the Food Bank for New York City was forced to cut back on its long-running tax refund filing for low-income taxpayers assistance program due budget limitations, according to Zac Hall who oversees programs for the non-profit organization.

“We weren’t naive to think the amount of support we received during COVID would be sustained, but the demand has still not gone back to pre-COVID levels,” Hall stated.

The Alamo city, Cooper provided the exact response: “The need has stayed up and the support, year over year, has been shrinking.”

The food inflation rate hasn’t decreased, and it’s not easing for costs.

After inflation was at its highest at the end of June in 2022. prices have dropped slightly in 2023. However, unlike other categories of consumption, inflation in grocery prices remains in a steady rise.

Since a larger portion of the poor Americans’ earnings are spent in the supermarket and food costs are rising, inflationary prices have a greater impact on budgets of the poor, Hall said, adding that those he assists must decide whether to pay for medical procedures and medicines or eating out.

“Those are really hard and inhumane decisions to be made, and that’s not something that we want to see be sustained,” Hall stated.

in San Antonio, Cooper said people he works with regularly complain that they are unable to afford tomatoes, berries, or apples. If that’s the case Cooper said, consumers tend to buy cheaper products that aren’t as nutritious.

“We’re still at such a high rate of inflation on so many food categories that diets have shifted,” Cooper stated. “Families tend to move into more boxed dinners, carbs, starches, cheaper belly-fillers.”

It is possible to invent ways to reduce costs at the supermarket however other aspects that make up a household’s spending such as gas and housing, are more predetermined the expert said.

“For every household budget, rent eats first,” Cooper declared.

In addition the food insecurity issue is measured by the lack of variation in a person’s diet according to the USDA. In 2022 the number of Americans were reported to be eating less nutritious food choices or not eating at all according to the USDA.

Food stamp programs must be strengthened, and food banks claim.

Food banks are able to help struggling Americans in a limited way, since buying a grocery bag is not the same thing as placing money into the pocket of a person that needs it, Hall said.

“We are not a replacement for SNAP,” said the president stated. “SNAP is the largest and best anti-hunger program we have in the country.”

Cooper says SNAP “our nation’s first line of defense” against hunger. It helps families directly and fills certain gaps that food banks will not be able to fill.

“It’s so dignifying for a family to be able to go to their grocery store and select the items that are culturally relevant,” Cooper explained. “And it accommodates religious preferences.”

This season, when Congress is putting off talks about negotiations on the Farm Bill, which funds SNAP Babineaux Fontenot said lawmakers shouldn’t be able to add restrictions on funding intended for those who are the least vulnerable in society.

“Isn’t it remarkable that in the middle of a pandemic with supply chain crises and all that was going on, that we actually saw a decrease in food insecurity rates,” she explained. “Let’s not trick ourselves into believing we don’t know that we know how to do this.”

Latest articles

Related articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here