Spokane’s food pantries see an uptick in people lacking food

SPOKANE, Wash.– As the U.S. government attempts to bring prices down, families are turning to food pantries to fill their fridges as the cost of food continues to rise.

Local organizations have been trying to keep up with inflation, but they are also struggling to fill their own shelves.

“We kind of passed the pandemic and we took a big breath, but then inflation hit,” said Eric Williams, Community Partnership Director at Second Harvest.

Based on their 280 partners in Washington and North Idaho, Second Harvest is seeing more people stopping by their pantries this year.

“Our partners are reporting a substantial uptick,” Williams said. “A lot of clients are new. People who never accessed to the food pantry before.”

The number of meals for Second Harvest in 2020 soared from 28 million meals to 44 million meals. In 2021, it went slightly down to 33 million meals.

Higher gas prices aren’t helping, either.

“Gas prices, diesel prices over last year up about 40 percent and similarly our monthly fuel bill has risen up by $10,000 a month,” Williams said.

Spokane Valley Partners is one of the food pantries getting food supplies from Second Harvest. They are also seeing more people stopping by their pantry than in the pandemic era.

“We’ve seen close to a 30 percent increase year-over-year,” said Justin Carlile, Foodbank manager at Spokane Valley Partners. “A lot of gas bills have gone way up, which means they have to supplement somewhere. A lot of them are using food banks to help supplement. That’s why we are here.”

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