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Local food banks feeling impact of inflation as consumer prices jump 6.2% in past year

GODS PANTRY FOOD BANK.jpg
Posted at 6:30 PM, Nov 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 19:15:13-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Department of Labor released October’s inflation numbers and the cost of living is now 6.2% more than it was one year ago. It’s a one percent jump since September, and the 6.2% represents the highest inflation rate hike since 1990, and the impact is being felt everywhere. Even inside the kind of bank where they don’t store or print money, the cost of doing business is on the rise.

“We have seen the cost of our sharing Thanksgiving basket go up this year by 14.5 percent,” said God’s Pantry Food Bank CEO, Michael Halligan.

Halligan is fortunate because his team plans for months in advance, so a good chunk of their supply is in the warehouse having been purchased and received weeks, if not months ago. But there are other concerns.

“We’ve seen our costs go up by about 50 percent. The transportation component of that is literally, doubled,” Halligan said.

God’s Panty takes in about 42 million pounds of food annually and distributes it to food banks across the state once they place their orders. It’s now costing about 6 cents per pound to move product around Kentucky.

Donations from the public are a big part of the business model here, and if the 6% increase in cost of living forces some benevolent families to tighten their belts during the holiday season, it could lead to problems down the road. One in five Kentuckians currently suffers from the insecurity of not knowing where their next meal will come.

“Donor fatigue is when folk get to a point where they are not able to do what they’ve historically been able to do” (in the past), Halligan said of one of the possible impacts of the rising inflation rate.

In Scott County, a spokesperson with The Amen House, which frequently orders from God’s Pantry, said they too are in good shape now, thanks in large part to donations, but they also have concern things could get tight as we approach the holidays.

“We’ve figured out a way to offset the costs, but the need is elevated due to the pandemic, and due to hunger in general,” Halligan said.

Supply inside God’s Pantry won’t ever completely dry up, at least it shouldn’t. Halligan has a budget to make purchases, donations won’t ever disappear entirely, and the Department of Agriculture, on both the state and national level, contributes too.

But if the inflation rate continues to rise, or even just hovers at this 6% mark for an extended period of time, it will make it more difficult to offset the rising cost of doing this business. Those who need it most will be the ones who suffer the most.