North Carolina food banks struggle meet rising demand as food prices soar

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Food banks are feeling the squeeze as food costs soar amid record inflation and high gas prices.

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC (FBCENC) reported trucking costs are up 20 percent in the last year, and that comes as the Food Bank reports moving twice as many truckloads of food when compared to shipments before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Food Bank said it is also paying 40 percent more for food purchases to keep up with demand for food assistance which has increased more than 39 percent compared to before COVID.



Plus, summer time brings another challenge: students out of school but without a steady source of food

"They're not receiving those free or reduced meals at school," explained Jennifer Caslin, who handles marketing for the FBCENC. "Electricity costs are going up, childcare costs are going up, so that's going to put even more strain on the budget."

"We've got about 321,000 kids who receive free or reduced meals in our 34 county service areas. So those kids may not have access to those meals this summer. So that's something we're working on now with our Stop Summer Hunger Initiative to make sure we can raise funds," Caslin said.

The Stop Summer Hunger Initiative is matching donations through the end of July.

"So your dollar will go even further right now. Every dollar donated can provide about 10 meals instead of just five. So we're very lucky that we have some donors that have come together for this match," Caslin said.

While the FBCENC has increased more than 39 percent, Caslin points out, many partner agencies including food pantries are seeing even higher demand.

"Our partner agencies that we work with--the food pantries to soup kitchens--are seeing about a 42 percent increase pre-COVID and the people that are coming to see them. So the rising costs are impacting everybody. They're impacting us. But more importantly, they're impacting the people that we serve," Caslin said.

To locate a food pantry in near you click here.
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