KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Nonprofits and volunteers are working on overtime to fill the gap and fight hunger, as inflation hit a new 40-year high in June. It’s impacting communities across the Kansas City area.
More and more people are turning to free food distribution drive-thus. Harvesters and a team of volunteers offer free apples, oranges and eggs.
The drive-thru at Franklin Center usually serves 340 households a month.
People start lining up at 9 a.m. for a 2 p.m. distribution just to make sure they get food.
“It’s a good help, good help,” Santiago Montero said.
“Both my wife and I are retired so we’re on a pretty limited income,” Garrett Van Houten said. “So, we try to take advantage of any of these opportunities that we have.”
Several families in this group are first timers. Understandably so, consumer prices soared 9.1% compared to this time last year. That’s up from 8.6% in May, according to the Consumer Price Index’s newest report, out Wednesday.
It also said this is the sixth month in a row that the cost of groceries is up at least 1%.
“People are coming to us in record numbers because they just cannot afford to put food on their tables,” Harvesters Spokesperson Kera Mashek said.
When the pandemic hit Harvesters saw the need in the community shoot up about 40%. Mashek said that tapered off a little bit as the economy got better. But now with the inflation woes the need has increased by about 20-30 percent compared to when the pandemic started.
“It’s ridiculous, it is,” Cynthia Singleton said. “It’s getting to the point it’s either a bill or food.”
The White House blames supply chain issues and Russia’s war on Ukraine.
President Joe Biden is calling on Congress to pass legislation to lower cost on prescription drugs and energy, according to Heather Boushey, Member of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisors.
“Inflation is unacceptably high,” Heather Boushey said.
Energy prices rose 7.5% from May to June and contributed nearly half of the overall increase, with the price of gasoline going up by 11.2%, according to the Labor Department.
Boushey said we’re starting to see a downward trend.
“The price of gas has actually been falling for 30 days in a row now,” Boushey said. “It’s down by about 40 cents nationwide.”
Harvesters knows the price of getting food out to people int the community has gone up. Mashek said fuel prices are 54% higher than what they were a year ago.
Harvesters spends $500,000-$800,000 a month to feed people.
Harvesters has free food opportunities nearly every day in Kansas and Missouri.
There’s a mobile food pantry distribution at The Cleaver Center YMCA every third Tuesday of every month from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
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