The Toll of Rising Gas and Grocery Prices
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.”
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.