Rising Food Costs Create Unique Challenges for Hunger-Focused Agencies
The rising cost of food is leading even more community members to find themselves in need of help, even as less assistance may be available.
The cost of groceries has steadily climbed over the last year, with a new record increase of 13.5% set in August (Consumer Price Index). On the heels of a pandemic, that led to unprecedented demand for food services. The rising cost of food is leading even more community members to find themselves in need of help, even as less assistance may be available.
The increase in food costs has created unique challenges for hunger-focused agencies. While many were receiving an influx of support at the height of the pandemic, much of that support went away at the same time they were experiencing growing demand. This shift can be attributed, at least in part, to inflation. There is no room in would-be donors’ budgets to purchase food beyond what is necessary for their own business operations. Whereas an increase in donations during the pandemic helped nonprofit operating budgets, the decrease in donations amid rising prices is forcing organizations to spend more of their budgets on food than ever before.
To continue aiding organizations that support underserved communities, it’s crucial that we increase focus on establishing direct connections between the food industry and those in need. We Don’t Waste is a conduit between the food and hospitality industry and hunger relief agencies. Our organization recovers quality, unused food including healthy proteins, fresh produce and dairy products from grocery stores, purveyors, caterers, restaurants, meal kit services and the like, and redistributes it to pantries and other community services or via their own mobile food markets.
So far in 2022, We Don’t Waste has served more than 100 nonprofit agencies via our distribution routes, and added an eighth monthly mobile market to meet increased need; however, more opportunity exists to build bridges between the industry and neighbors in need. We introduced an app, for example, which assigns restaurant pickups—those that don’t make sense for an 18-foot truck to handle—to volunteers who then courier rescued food back to the distribution center or deliver it directly to nonprofit agencies.
It’s advancements like this one that will prove to be pivotal in uncovering as many direct lines as possible from those with excess to those with far less in the ongoing fight against hunger.