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Rising Food and Fuel Costs Affecting Alabama Food Banks

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — As inflation hit a 40-year high in March, rising food and gasoline prices are having a particularly hard impact on Alabamians in need.

The Montgomery Area Food Bank helps thousands of people put food on the table, but recently inflation and the pandemic have made that more difficult, according to communications director Al Bloom.

“More people have less purchasing power, which means more people are food insecure because they compromise,” Bloom said.

The food bank serves 35 counties, feeding between 330,000 and 340,000 people each year. Bloom says they rely on donations from retail grocery stores to stock the shelves. But with supply chain issues, they have not always been able to secure shipments, having to spend money on food which is usually used to cover operating costs.

“At the height of the pandemic, when we had 300,000 or 400,000 additional unemployment claims, we spent over $1 million on food,” Bloom said.

With more people in need, fewer volunteers and consumer prices at their highest in decades, Alabama Childhood Food Solutions co-founder Jim Jones is asking for help.

“It’s almost humorous, I walk around like this asking all my friends, neighbors and churches and everyone I see, ‘Can you help us feed the food insecure in the center of the city? ‘Alabama?'” Jones said.

Jones’ nonprofit serves seven counties in central Alabama, primarily focused on children and families. He says he saw a 22% increase in overall operating costs.

“We had this vendor in Chicago call us and tell us we’ll see a 30% increase by July 1 of this year,” Jones said.

It’s not just food costs that are making a dent. Those at the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama say transportation is also expensive.

“We put nine trucks on the road every day to deliver food, which has affected what we have to pay for gas, so it hurts a little bit everywhere,” said acting general manager Nicole Williams.

The USDA says it expects more increases to come, particularly for poultry and eggs, in part because of a recent outbreak of avian flu.


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