Food banks fight inflation

INDIANAPOLIS — Like you, food banks are feeling the pinch of inflation and supply chain issues. The Midwest Food Bank reports that its fuel costs have increased by 40% and the cost of using third-party trucks has increased significantly.

“It’s costing us 100% more, so double what we were paying before,” said executive director John Whitaker. “$1,200 to $1,500 last year to have a given load of food picked up, now it costs us $3,000 to $3,500 to have it picked up. »

Whitaker said it’s also difficult to hire truck drivers.

“It’s just a merry-go-round of issues that we have to overcome in order to be able to do our job,” Whitaker explained.

Whitaker explained that they donate all donated food and said the amount they can donate depends on the amount of donations.

“Every dollar that goes into the Midwest Food Bank goes directly to feeding people,” Whitaker said. “We can turn that into $50 worth of food to take out and give to someone.”

Gleaners receive a significant amount of food from the United States Department of Agriculture. But, finance and operations director Joe Slater said the dollar doesn’t stretch that far for producers and government producers.

“They told us, for example, that they used to buy 24 truckloads of chicken with the allocated dollars,” Slater explained. “These same dollars will buy 20 trucks now. Our food supply is therefore cut in half, which represents a shortfall for us of approximately 10 million pounds of food for this exercise.

Gleaners said that means his team will have to find enough money to pay for eight million meals to make up for the loss.

“If we can’t manage the economy to have enough food to distribute what each household might need when they come for help, they get less food,” Slater said.

Gleaners recently unveiled a protein reconditioning room.

“There’s actually a lot of bulk protein at producers and manufacturing plants that usually goes to landfill, just thrown away because nobody can do anything with it,” Slater said. “It’s in big drums or tubs or 40-pound packages. So we just put a room online this week where we can adhere to the highest standards of cleanliness and sanitization and we can take those items in bulk and we can package them so the good protein doesn’t get thrown away it’s going actually getting into the hands of a family that needs it.

Food banks are also concerned about the increase in the number of households that will need help next June. That’s when people won’t get as many SNAP benefits because the pandemic surge ends.

Besides donations, food banks need volunteers to help them distribute food to people. For more information on volunteer opportunities, visit the Midwest Food Bank website and/or the Gleaners website.

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