CLEVELAND (WJW) — If inflation and the nation’s food shortage have you worrying about how you’ll get a turkey and all the fixins’ on the table for the upcoming holiday season, local food banks are concerned about the same thing.
America’s nationwide network of food banks, Feeding America, is seeing a “perfect storm” of situations calling it extremely challenging to meet the demands of food insecurity, according to a recent report from FOX News.
President and COO of Feeding America Katie Fitzgerald, in a phone interview with FOX News, said that the food crisis now is in some ways “worse than what we saw at the height of the pandemic.”
Fitzgerald listed three specific concerns with the food shortage:
- Food donations are down because of tight inventory and the ongoing supply chain issues.
- Government commodity food is down compared to some programs that were in place during the height of the pandemic. Food banks distribute a lot of government commodity food.
- Food banks have been essentially purchasing their way through the problem. Inflation at the grocery store is just as challenging for food banks as it is for families.
Nationwide supply chain issues and inflation are also felt at the local level as food banks prepare for the holiday season.
The Greater Cleveland Food Bank says they ordered turkeys back in March to make sure they had enough to distribute for the holiday season. They noticed the prices definitely increased, according to Director of Communications Karen Pozna.
“We are counting on our fundraising efforts to help make up for the increased costs,” Pozna said. “Additionally, the traditional sides like canned yams, pumpkin pie filling and other canned food items are also expected to increase in cost.”
She said they typically order 20,000 turkeys each year, but due to not only supply chain issues and also the avian flu, only 18,000 turkeys were available to them for Thanksgiving 2022. After calling around to turkey suppliers back in the spring, they were able to secure the turkeys at $1.59 per pound compared to $0.93 per pound in 2019. She said currently the price per pound has skyrocketed to $2.79.
“People have been so generous,” she said. “Cleveland is amazing with providing the need, but we are seeing donor fatigue. The need is still there.”
She explained the weekly Thursday food drive at the Muni Lot is still up and running, serving about 2,000 households. They are preparing to serve around 3,500 families at the Muni Lot the week of Thanksgiving.
In addition to the Muni Lot, the food bank carries 1,000 different food programs benefitting kids, seniors and pantry locations.
To find out more about the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, to donate or to volunteer at one of their 1,000 food programs, click here.
Serving Lorain, Erie, Huron, Crawford counties, the Second Harvest Food Bank has partnered once again with Lorain County Community College for their annual Thanksgiving food drive.
The north central Ohio food bank served about 2,000 families in the 2021 holiday season, where a half a million dollars were supplied through American Rescue Plan funds.
President and CEO Julie Chase-Morefield explained that their biggest challenge is the shortage of food available through both government aid and grocery store donations.
Chase-Morefield said they’ve seen a 52% decline in federal foods coming in – about 3.3 million pounds of food – that had been available during the height of the pandemic.
She said that although the community is incredibly generous, 12 food banks across the state have asked for $50 million from state pandemic funds.
In the past, grocery stores donated frozen meat and other food to the pantry but with food shortages being a major concern, they’ve needed to pull back on donations just to keep their own shelves stocked for customers needs, she explained.
To find out more about the Second Harvest Food Bank or to donate, click here.
Click here for a list of food pantries in Cleveland.