Running a successful food pantry that can serve the needs of a community is never easy. Here at Pinnacle Resource Center our food bank serves three counties, making the task that much tougher. 2022 is seeing its own unique problem and that is hyper food inflation.
Shoppers well know that food costs are escalating rapidly. In our region even the reported inflation numbers don’t do it justice. Economists have estimated food inflation at 10 percent recently but our personal experience in the actual stores puts that number at closer to 30 percent for many dry or canned staples. The number jumps closer to 50 percent for eggs, milk, and most meats.
This rapid acceleration in prices is caused by a few factors, however the main one is simply corporate profiteering. The scapegoat in all this is rising fuel costs, but even those are a result of not just record breaking oil and refinery profits, but record breaking profit margins. Meaning those businesses are making a much larger percentage in profit than normal.
What does that mean for you and for us? Higher prices everywhere. Those prices are accelerating faster than wages and that leaves people who had little margin for error landing on the side of doing without. Those people turn to food pantries to help address their shortfall at home. That’s why we are so thankful we are able to help people with our community choice food pantry.
We also see new customers reaching out for our services in times like these. People who never thought they’d have to turn to an emergency food provider. Hard working people who just can’t keep up. Our food supply and dollars shrink while the number of those in need increase. It’s a vicious cycle.
If you are reading this and you’re worried about what you are going to feed your children, or if you are an elderly person who is eating less than normal to try and save money, please reach out to us here at Pinnacle Resource Center. Don’t feel alone or ashamed. Recent studies show that 1 in 6 adults face food insecurity. 1 in 5 children face the issue and 1 in 7 elderly people. Even that study was from just before the extreme inflation started. Those numbers are almost assuredly worse now. This means deepening shortages across the food security network.
Food pantries everywhere are facing the problems we are facing at Pinnacle. Normal items like pasta, sauce, peanut butter, breakfast cereals, and of course meats aren’t as easy to come by now. These dry goods and protein sources are invaluable to people who need food stability.
We are also consumers and the inflation is one of our biggest current problems. Our cost to replace food is higher and the inflation hitting every corner of the economy means that our donations invariably decrease. People can’t afford to give as much as they once did. We have to shop smarter as we attempt to maximize nutritional value while operating with what amounts to a much smaller budget due to inflation.
At times like these, funding from state and federal government sources becomes a pressing need. We advocate for every dollar at Pinnacle Resource Center, and those dollars go back to our community. They are desperately needed across rural Appalachia, an area that for decades delivered the energy that built America but was left largely abandoned after the coal boom ended.
A state level decision took one of our normal funding sources and diverted it to mainly urban areas for this budgetary cycle. This means a significant amount of our food purchasing power was diverted away. We are working on your behalf to see that that doesn’t happen in the future.
The area we serve has an average annual salary that is around 30 percent lower than the urban areas that saw funding. A much larger percentage of the population in our footprint is considered poor. The lowest income earners see essentially all of their income going towards items needed for survival. Food alone is around 33 percent of the total wages of low income residents in the area.
The emergency food situation in the nation was never meant to have to serve so many people who are earning money. The lag in wages however means that those designated “working poor” is ever expanding. We at Pinnacle Resource Center and others like us are now part of the normal budgetary process for many working class familes. This wasn’t the case a generation ago. There’s something fundamentally wrong when the richest nation on Earth sees as much as 20 percent of its working families struggling to put a meal on the table, because they have to spend their food budget in order to get to work. It gets to a point for some that they are essentially working in order to pay to be able to work. Please reach out to us if you need food, or even if you need help with budgeting. We offer a variety of resources that are designed to help people avoid homelessness and food insecurity. Times are hard and we are here to offer a hand up during these lean times.