Supply Chains Challenge Cause by Inflation Negatively Impacts Local Food Pantries In Western Massachusetts
Local food pantries are still being negatively impacted by inflation and difficulties in supply networks. As a result of disruptions in the supply chain brought on by the epidemic, the prices of common foodstuffs have increased at a time when inflation is still a problem in the United States.
As a result of supply chain limitations that followed the pandemic, daily food items now come with a higher price tag. As inflation continues to be a problem in the United States, an increasing number of families are turning to food banks for assistance.
Even though the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is the primary food provider for more than 160 member food agencies, shelters, and meal programs in the state, they are having trouble keeping up with the rising demand for their services.
Christina Maxwell, of the Food Bank, anticipates that the current surge in local food insecurity will persist during the next few months despite the fact that emergency SNAP payments have been discontinued.
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“Expecting more people to turn to food pantries to put food on the tables. The legislature passed a 40 percent replacement for three months, so that will help people. It’s certainly not as good as getting the entire benefit, but at least it’s some help,” Maxwell explained.
She also said that anyone living in the Bay State who was receiving those benefits would be given a small reprieve, but that it wouldn’t be enough. Maxwell said statewide funding for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has not changed. However, because of inflation, that same dollar now buys fewer groceries than it did before.
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Evidence from nearly 3 decades has shown the #SNAP time limit is an abject failure. It is punitive, racist, and ineffective. Taking food off the table doesn't help folks get or keep good, consistent jobs. https://t.co/DhnXuKlVaQ
— Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (@MassLawReform) April 24, 2023
In response to nationwide food shortages caused by disruptions in the food supply chain, the United States Department of Agriculture has drastically reduced the amount of aid it provides.
“That’s having a very large impact on our ability to serve our agencies and our ability to serve the neighbors who come in to get food from them,” Maxwell said.
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Shirley Del Rio, the director of food operations at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, has stated that the organization is unable to cover the shortfall on its own. She estimated that it would cost as much as $1.5 million to cover the government cut alone and that if the Food Bank continues to face delays due to food chain limitations, online ordering is only expected to rise.
“We turn our complete inventory eight times a year. We’re trending towards turning our complete inventory 21.7 times a year, so when we’re comparing returns, we’re up 161 percent over last fiscal year,” Del Rio said.
Del Rio claims that some of the steps they are doing here in western Massachusetts include the following:
- lowering product limitations in order to make it possible for all of their members to place orders for products
- Purchasing specific items members have requested, including food staples such as tuna and peanut butter
- removing markup fees so that agencies can make up the difference
Deb Ondo, director of engagement and communications at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, put it this way:
“Or asking our donors for a monetary contribution and we’re also suggesting that there are other ways. People can organize a food or refund drive if they wish for every dollar donated to the Food Bank and provide the equivalent of three healthy meals in our region.”
The Food Bank is also asking for the public’s help by launching a fundraising campaign this week to rally community support.
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