DENVER — Food banks in the Denver area are feeling the squeeze of inflation, as reports show a 9.1% increase from a year ago in June. Between higher costs for food, a slowdown in donations and an increase in families needing help, food banks are feeling more pressure.
Food Bank of the Rockies says it has seen an increase in first-time families visiting its mobile pantries, in particular. Many of these families, volunteers say, have steady income, but it’s not going as far with higher prices at the grocery store, gas station and more.
“We had probably 50 extra cars of new people,” said Lana Lopes, a volunteer site coordinator of a mobile pantry in Aurora. “And you’ve got to remember that when I say 50 cars, half of them have double families. So, it’s really like 100.”
“We’re hearing again and again that people are in line to receive food, often for the first time in their lives, because they’re having to make a choice between putting food on the table and paying their rent,” said Erin Pulling, CEO of Food Bank of the Rockies.
At a time when the organization is seeing higher need from families, its costs to operate are climbing dramatically, too. Pulling called it a “perfect storm," which has lead to a tripling of food costs compared to pre-pandemic numbers.
“We’re seeing increased need,” Pulling said. “Anecdotally, sometimes we’re serving 50% more people. And then we’re also being hit by an actual reduction in donated food coming to us from manufacturers and retailed and from the USDA. So we’re buying more food than ever, and, of course, just like you and I as consumers are paying more for food at the grocery store, Food Bank of the Rockies is paying more.”
With both higher need and higher costs facing the organization, Food Bank of the Rockies is particularly appreciative of donations currently. If you’re in a position to help, donations can be made online. Every dollar donated provides the equivalent of four meals, according to the organization.
Editor's Note: This story has been edited to correct the last name of Erin Pulling.