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As inflation spikes, more local families rely on food banks to meet their needs

Food banks also facing increased costs themselves
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Posted at 11:21 PM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 23:21:40-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Local organizations working to keep serving families despite the increase in costs.

"You have to make it stretch," Malverna Streater said.

Streater lives in Tallahassee, and says the community is facing tough decisions when it comes to inflation.

"You really have to decide what's good nutritionally and also economically to provide and feed your family," Streater said.

The Community Co-op Market is where Malverna buys her groceries.

Madelon Givens is the Co-op's front-end manager and says they're seeing their share of increasing supply costs and a change in customer spending habits.

"They've been buying less, we're sometimes seeing smaller basket sizes, or they because of gas prices, they'll do bigger trips but less frequently."

AAA says Florida gas prices jumped 8 cents over the last week.

With those costs, some families are forced to forget the grocery store altogether.

"We're seeing more families coming and that's what I think they really see is the number of children that are coming with families."

Monique Van Pelt is the CEO of Second Harvest of the Big Bend. She says more people are going to the food bank to get what they need. That need is expected to rise this summer.

"How much more are families going to have to carry that financial burden when there is no longer school, so free and reduced lunches aren't going to be an option for families that usually have the benefit of that during the school year, that won't be the case in the next few weeks."

Their operating costs are also going up thanks to increased shipping expenses.

Despite this, they're rolling out a new locker system to serve the community beyond food pantry hours.

"By families being able to call in and say 'I can't make it this week but I really need the food', and the pantry partner is able to collect food out of their pantry, bag it up, put it in the locker outside, and give that family like a number of days that they can go pick it up with an access code that they're emailed."

They plan to open up to 4 food lockers across the Big Bend.

The first Leon County food locker will be at Sabal Palm Elementary. They plan to open it up within the next 2 months.

Madelon Givens with the Co-op says they still plan to offer affordable options like 3-dollar dinners despite having to spend more to supply the store.

“Any budget can come here and work and also if you’re a member and if you’re on some sort of assistance plan like EBT or SNAP we have a program for you as well so you can save extra.”