The Toll of Rising Gas and Grocery Prices

The Toll of Rising Gas and Grocery Prices

A Target Hunger client posing while waiting to receive her monthly groceries.

Watching the news this summer, you’re sure to find the often-seen clip of a consumer at a grocery store or gas station, discussing their shock at the higher prices compared to the last week. You relate to the story, feeling the slight surge in frustration for your piggy bank and concern that prices will keep climbing. As the segment ends and moves to the next story, many of us can forget these feelings until we go for our next fill-up or grocery shop, or the next gas and grocery price story appears on the news. Our thoughts about the costs of these daily needs are very environmentally driven. But what if you couldn’t forget the story? What if your budget was providing your family with significantly less food than it had the week before, leading you to wonder if that food would last you through the week? What if your day revolved around the fluctuating price of gas – wondering if you had enough, calculating the exact mileage needed to get where you need to go? 

These are the questions that Target Hunger clients face daily as prices for basic needs continue to climb. Joyce, a monthly pantry recipient, told us she struggles with the cost of groceries as prices are rising. It’s no wonder clients like Joyce are struggling, as food prices in June of 2022 were 10.4% higher than June of 2021 (USDA). This steep climb in prices is a result of many things, including supply chain difficulties from the pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine. Proteins have increased most significantly, by 11.4% (eggs) to 16.2% (beef), and dairy by 5.2%. Fresh fruits and vegetables are not immune either, at 10.6% and 4.3% respectively. With such high prices, many families are turning to outside help to supplement their grocery needs. Joyce is thankful for the fresh fruits and vegetables she receives through Target Hunger, because “when I go to the store, all I have to worry about is meats. The cost of meat is so high now.” 

Watermelons, a favorite summer fruit, for distribution at our last July Food Fair.

With income limitations on the pantry program, some clients turn to our Food Fairs to receive the supplemental foods their income just doesn’t cover. Clients can attend as many Food Fairs as they need, with 5 offered each month. At the last Food Fair in July, clients received a wide variety of fresh produce including whole watermelons, strawberries, carrots, mandarin oranges, greens, and broccoli. They also received some pantry staples including microwavable chili, pinto beans, and rice. Volunteers delighted in the smiles of the many children that passed through with their families, grinning ear to ear when they saw the big watermelons and juicy strawberries delivered to their trunks. 

As needs remain high, we will continue to serve our community in every capacity. Times are tough, but helping our neighbors makes each day a little bit better. You can provide relief by donating to our programs or by signing up to volunteer at one of our community food fairs.  

 

Sources:

https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-price-outlook/summary-findings/

https://www.npr.org/2022/03/31/1090086246/grocery-store-food-prices-increase-2022-usda-report

Garden Volunteers Feature: Bill Chen & Sharan Chang

Meet Two of Our Garden Volunteers!

Work in our Goffney and Shotwell gardens is never ending, from weeding to planting to harvesting, it’s a constant process. Our Garden team, Lupe and Mark, do an incredible job working in the Houston heat, but they don’t do it alone! We have incredible volunteers who spend hours helping to get the work done. Husband and wife,   Bill and Sharan, are two of those volunteers. Bill and Sharan come to the gardens once a week to help with whatever is needed. In the last year, they have spent over 100 hours volunteering with Target Hunger! We are so grateful for their commitment to Target Hunger and to making a difference in Houston. We asked them to share about their time volunteering in the garden, read what they have to say!

Q: What prompted you to get involved with Target Hunger?

Bill: I started volunteering after retirement as a way to connect with the communities. I first joined through Volunteer Houston. Then I received an email from Target Hunger asking for volunteers to work in the Shotwell warehouse and to help distribute food. From volunteering at the warehouse and distribution, I found out about the gardens and decided to volunteer regularly at the gardens. Sharan: I was laid off in May of 2020. At age 64, retirement is the most likely result. My husband, Bill, invited me to join him when he volunteered at Target Hunger, so I gave it a try.

Q: How long have you been volunteering in the gardens? How often do you volunteer?

Bill: I think started volunteering at the warehouse and food distribution right after the start of Covid-19, early 2020. Then I started working in the garden around May of 2020. I usually work one morning a week from around 8 to around noon, on Thursday or Friday. Sharan: I started around September 2020, volunteering half a day each week. 

Q: What is your favorite thing about volunteering in the gardens?

Bill: My favorite thing is to see immediate progress after working – a weeded bed ready for planting, planting seeds, and harvesting fully grown vegetables. Another enjoyment is to work with others at the garden. Sharan: Looking at the results. Meeting people when working in the garden and listening to the life stories they share with me. 

Q: What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like to cook it?

Bill: Everything at the garden is my favorite. I have learned about growing and eating them from Barbara, Mark, Lupe, and other volunteers. Sharan: Sweet Basil with scrambled eggs. 

Q: What would you say about your experience to someone who might be interested in volunteering with Target Hunger?

Bill: Volunteering at the garden has many benefits. It is good for physical heath as you are working your body. It is good for mental health as you see your work turn into progress and “bear fruit”. It is good for your “soul” as the fruits of your labor benefit other people as well as yourself. It is also a way to be useful to the community. Sharan: It’s great to spend half a day a week outdoors; make yourself useful, see the results, feel accomplished, and meet different people. 

Q: In your own words, why is Target Hunger’s mission important?

Community is us. Some of us need help sometimes in our lives. When we can offer help, we do and when we need help we hope to receive. It is about helping each other when we can. When we help others, we are helping ourselves.

Our community gardens are a great place to volunteer by yourself, with a friend, or with a team. We would love to have you join us! Visit targethunger.org/get-involved to see opportunities, or contact our Volunteer Manager, Sean Nickelberry, for more information. We hope to see you volunteering with us soon!

 

Meet the Newest Member of our Team – Reyna!

Meet the Newest Member of Our Team! 

We have a new member on team Target Hunger – Reyna Zapata! She has joined as our new Client Services Program Manager. Reyna will be leading our growing client services team as they assist clients in our pantries, at food fairs, and in our other programs. The individuals on this wonderful team are the faces and voices that greet our clients every day. They listen to stories, assist in registrations, and make sure that anyone who receives services from Target Hunger leaves with relief and nourishment. We are so excited to have Reyna on staff!  

We asked Reyna to answer a few questions so that you can get to know her a little better!  

8 Questions with Reyna 

Q: Where do you most want to visit in the world?
A: Hawaii 

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: Becoming a first-time homeowner 

Q: What is one thing you could not go a day without? 
A: Family 

Q: What’s your favorite way to spend a day off?
A: Shopping  

Q: If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?
A: To be invisible.  

Q: If you could share a meal with any 4 individuals, living or dead, who would they be?
A: My grandpa, grandma, mom, and dad  

Q: Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life? 
A: My daughter  

Q: What’s your favorite family recipe?
A: My mom’s mole poblano  

Q: What is your favorite ice cream topping? 
A: Caramel syrup 

Q: What is on your bucket list? 
A: To build and design my own home.  

Q: What are 3 words that best describe you?
A: Crazy, accountable, ambitious

  

Welcome to Reyna! Target Hunger is excited to have her on the team, and we can’t wait to see how she guides our client services team to be even more impactful in our community!