Amid the pandemic, food banks are on average serving 60% more families than a year ago, according to a recent analysis by Feeding America. The analysis found that 80% of food banks in the Feeding America network have seen an increase in demand amid the pandemic.
Despite this jump in demand, the organization says that food banks have “become accustomed” to increased demand for services. Feeding America’s analysis says that 40% of those going to food banks this year are doing so for the first time.
Compounding issues for many families, food prices have jumped in the last year, according to USDA analysis. According to the USDA, the average cost of food prepared at home has increased 4% from October 2019 through October 2020. In the last 20 years, the average increase of food prices per year is 2%.
The increase in prices has been most pronounced in meat, poultry and dairy. From October 2019 through October 2020, meat prices jumped 6.6%. Previously, meat prices generally increased 3% a year.
The issue of increased prices was something that Feeding America leaders addressed last month as lawmakers have failed to come to an agreement on a new stimulus plan.
“With food prices increasing at the fastest rate in 50 years and predictions that 1 in 4 children could face hunger this year, a 15 percent increase to the maximum SNAP benefit is the most effective way to meet the moment,” Kate Leone, Chief government relations officer at Feeding America, wrote. “Boosting SNAP benefits will provide families more resources to purchase the food they need through purchases at local grocers and businesses, which will stimulate economies across the country.
“With the nation’s public health and economic crises continuing without an end in sight, our economy and families are being pushed to the very brink. We need our government to invest in the hunger-relief measures today because families struggling with hunger need it now.”
Feeding America said that Americans can help by volunteering at their local food bank or donating to their local food bank or Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Feeding America said that 60% of food banks in its network are in need of volunteers.