Lexington mother speaks about rising holiday food costs and lowered food benefits

Posted at 3:19 PM, Nov 24, 2022

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Thanksgiving Day is here, and some families have been preparing for weeks. If you've been to the grocery store, you know dinner has been more expensive this year. For one family that relies on Kentucky Food Assistance and SNAP benefits, their dinner has almost doubled in cost.

Tania Whitfield and her family are getting ready for Thanksgiving. She's a mom of two that uses SNAP benefits to feed her family. This year her cousin, who also uses benefits, is making the turkey day meal, and she knows that food costs have gone way up.

Whitfield says, "I am a great budgeter, but can't turn a dollar out of $0.15. It's no way to do that."

Food prices have risen more than 10% this year compared to a year ago. And the American Farm Bureau estimates thanksgiving dinner is up 20% from last year. As 25 family members and friends head to Whitfield's family's dinner table, as a member of the Kentucky Food Action Network, she knows that even more benefits might be cut by the winter holidays.

She shares, "We have family come over, and I want people to be able to eat well because that's what the holidays are about is eating and spending time with your family."

This Thanksgiving, Whitfield says that her family has spent double what they've spent in holidays past, and that accounts for a little bit more than a fourth of their benefits budgets for the month.

She says, "And that's just at the lowest that I'm thinking, because I know she probably got some extra greens and some, and you know, it's just like, that's a lot. Because that's just for one meal."

When we spoke with Whitfield this summer, her benefits had dropped more than $200. Now, she gets a little more than $700 a month in benefits -- and she says recently, she's noticed she's getting less food for more money. She says she's a strict budgeter and is thankful that she can provide for her daughters and that her family can get together this holiday. Now, she has this message for policymakers.

"So when people that have worked hard their whole lives have to do this to keep their head above water, then you need to look at that kind of information like, 'okay, why is that? What more can we do as policymakers, and what more can we do as legislators?' And that's why as people, we have to speak up; we have to say enough is enough," says Whitfield.