Low food, monetary donations continue to plague Michiana food pantries

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 6:48 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - As inflation continues to empty Americans’ pockets, families are slashing their grocery budgets meaning local food pantries are still having a hard time keeping up with high demand.

16 News Now talked with the Food Bank of Northern Indiana in May, and the biggest issue facing them and pantries was not enough volunteers and donations. But now, new issues are starting to rise for both. They are both in dire need of monetary and food donations as the Summer season starts to ramp up.

It’s something that Anne Watson, Executive Director with St. Vincent De Paul’s food pantry says took them by surprise.

“Typically, in the summer we have an increase. So, we usually plan for it, but we’ve never seen an increase like this before,” said Watson. “We are kind of struggling to keep up with the demand. Our volunteers have been wonderful at packing boxes, but sometimes we’re just getting to the point where we just don’t have what we need.”

Inflation has also hit the pockets of pantries as the cost of milk, eggs and butter rises. Watson says that perishable food items such as milk and eggs have cost significantly more for them.

For example, a USDA survey showed that in January of this year, a gallon of 2% reduced fat milk cost $3.78 while May’s survey showed a 50-cent increase at $4.28.

Nan Tulchinsky, Co-Director of the Northeast Neighborhood Food Pantry says they’ve been fortunate to partner with numerous groups such as Cultivate Food Rescue and Unity Gardens to bring fresher foods to families. She says they’ve had no issues with volunteers or donations, but had more issues with monetary donations.

“When the pandemic first started, I’d like to make the comparison that the first year, we served about 1,000 people more than we did the year before. And then the second year, we served another 1,000 than that,” said Tulchinsky. “We thought that possibly with the pandemic slowing down that we would slow down, but with the cost of food, it has actually been on an upswing these last three months.”

Tulchinsky says that the Northeast Neighborhood Food Pantry isn’t in need of volunteers, however they are always looking for donations of any kind whether that’d be food or monetary contributions.

If you’re interested in more hands-on volunteering, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana is always looking for people to help out.

According to the bank’s website, about 30 volunteers are needed daily to help sort through items.

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