Food prices continue to rise in the United States. According to experts, this is largely happening due to supply chain issues and the pandemic. Inflation is higher than it has been in years. The price of groceries has risen steadily during the last two years, especially the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables. Meats are also rising in price. Each of us are noticing these food prices going up in our own trips to the grocery store. At the Storehouse and other food pantries, rising food prices can have a negative effect in three ways.
Rising Food Prices Impact the Numbers of People that Need Food Pantries
Hunger has been an ongoing struggle in New Mexico. Lots of families live month to month, barely making ends meet. One major expense like a car repair or a trip to the doctor can push that budget to the limit. As food prices rise, more people rely on hunger organizations to feed themselves or their families. Their limited dollars don’t go as far so food from the Storehouse is needed.
Recently, we were talking to a retired veteran about this issue. In years past, if he had more prescriptions or had another expense he didn’t expect, he would come to the Storehouse a few times a year to make sure he had something to eat. With the food prices where they are now he’s been coming to the food pantry almost every month. Without the Storehouse he would be skipping meals. Lots of adults and even children in our community do that. One in 3 children is going hungry in New Mexico, which is higher than national statistics. We rank among the highest for adult food insecurity, too. This gentleman explained that he’d missed meals before. However, his current medications are supposed to be taken with food and he was worried he wouldn’t have enough food to consistently do that. Thankfully, the Storehouse and other food organizations across New Mexico are here to help.
Increases Mean the Food Pantry Pays More for Groceries
Food prices are rising for everyone and food pantries are no different. The Storehouse buys at wholesale prices, so the pantry gets better deals than the general public. Still, every dollar matters when over 42,000 people on average count on your organization to provide meals.
So far, we have mostly been able to hold our costs down and stick to our budget by choosing different items. That has limited our ability to buy certain foods. For example, meats and fresh produce have been harder to get. Thankfully, lots of the food the Storehouse gives away is donated to the food pantry. For several years in a row we have only purchased 6 percent of the food we give away. The rest came from donations.
As Prices Rise, Food Donations Go Down
The vast majority of the food that the Storehouse gives away is donated to the food pantry. First, the food comes from surplus groceries. A great example is Albertsons Market whose stores are major contributors to the Storehouse. Our drivers pick up from over a dozen grocery stores every week. Items the grocers donate include meats, dairy products, canned goods, and fresh fruits and vegetables. These generous gifts make up a big part of what the food pantry gives away.
Second, local businesses, schools, and clubs hold food drives for the Storehouse. For example, on Saturday February 5, 2022, several boy scout troops are hosting the “Scouting for Food” food drive in hopes of collecting several thousand pounds of food for our operations. On any given week, dozens of food drives are happening all over town. Those donations are canned goods or shelf stable items. These food drives are greatly appreciated, as well.
Both of these categories of donated food are being impacted as food prices rise. Firstly, the grocery stores have been having supply chain issues and limits in some stock due to pricing. As a result, the food we are picking up has been reduced which means we have less to give away. Secondly, food drives can struggle because they rely on members of the public to give food, who are the very people who are paying more at the grocery store. Most of the time people will dedicate a certain dollar amount to support a food drive. Such as telling themselves they will buy an extra $20 in peanut butter to support the effort. However, those dollars are not going as far right now. The amount of food in barrels drops as a result.
How to Help Lessen this Impact to the Storehouse
The Storehouse greatly appreciates everyone who supports our effort. We rely on the generosity of our community to support the fight against hunger. Without people who donate money and food we would not be able to fulfill our mission as a food pantry, and many more people in New Mexico would go hungry. Though food prices are up and making things harder on food organizations, there are definitely ways the public can help.
The first and best way to help a food organization like the Storehouse is a cash donation. Our dollars go farther than the general public since we buy wholesale. We are still able to keep our costs down despite recently rising food prices. One dollar donated still provides 5 meals through the Storehouse.
Second, you can host a food drive yourself. To do so, contact the food pantry at info@StorehouseNM.org or call (505)842-6491 to have barrels brought to your business.
Third, you can do a combination of a food drive and fundraiser. This means you collect food, either in your own containers or by getting some from the Storehouse to fill. In addition, you set up a fundraiser to go along with your drive. It’s easy to do on our website and you can add your organization’s logo and information. That way, people can support your food drive virtually, by giving money to your campaign to the Storehouse, securely online. Even people who are limiting trips to the grocery store due to rising COVID case counts or who don’t live in Albuquerque can easily give.
Any way you support the Storehouse, it is appreciated. Thank you for helping lessen the impact of rising food prices on our food pantry.