Escalating fuel prices coupled with supply chain issues are creating problems that are rippling into every part of our lives, including the ability to put nutritious, healthful food on the table. Individuals who are medically fragile and struggling to make ends meet are being hit especially hard.
“After more than three decades of service, the number of individuals experiencing nutrition and food insecurity continues to grow,” said Food Outreach Executive Director Julie Lock. “Rising prices, inflation, and supply chain disruptions have created new challenges for us. Like everyone else, we are learning to live with higher prices and make prudent adjustments.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices in the United States are now rising at an annual pace of 7.5 percent and could go even higher. As a result, the cost of providing services and necessities, like food, is projected to increase. Food price inflation is the most direct threat to food security and undermines access to quality, healthy foods. Being agile enables Food Outreach to navigate current economic trends, explained Lock.
“While food costs continue to rise significantly, we also know that extreme heat, flooding, and droughts impact farmers and food manufacturers. Workforce shortages affect stores and food suppliers,” said Lock. “Though we have no control over any of these ongoing challenges, we remain committed to addressing nutrition insecurity by providing medically tailored meals and groceries to our clients dealing with chronic illness and hunger. Our amazing team of volunteers and Red Aprons come to Food Outreach each day to pack our client’s menu orders and home-delivered boxes. Our board and staff remain devoted to building our capacity to serve more community members.”
Nonprofits of all kinds are getting hit by inflation
Like other organizations whose work requires they get behind the wheel, higher gas prices are affecting the cost of food delivery. Food Outreach is paying up to INSERT # times more for transportation costs. In January, Food Outreach delivery trucks drove X,XXX miles at a cost of $X,XXX. In April, the cost was $X,XXX, representing a XX% increase.
“It’s a tipping point, and a real concern that individuals already grappling with chronic illnesses like HIV or cancer are forced to make sacrifices with regards to their nutrition and other necessities as the cost of living worsens,” said Lock.
The growing insecurity of those facing food hardships is a pressing concern at Food Outreach. Though the nonprofit has yet to turn away a single qualified client, cost increases in proteins, major commodities like wheat, and fuel are creating a perfect storm.
“The incredible generosity of the St. Louis community makes our mission possible—and because of our community’s support, we are continuing to meet an important need and have great impact!” said Lock. “And, that makes me cautiously optimistic for the future.”