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Food banks are struggling to come to the aid of Americans in need as demand and costs simultaneously soar, according to the head of Georgia’s largest food bank, who has urged the government to provide more aid .
“It’s a very humbling moment when you meet someone who is scared,” Kyle Waide, president and CEO of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, told Fox News. “They can’t provide for their families. We see that every day.”
“They have to choose between buying food or paying their electricity bill,” Waide continued. “Those kinds of choices only put families in a difficult situation.”
Inflation hit a 40-year high in June at 9.1%, but food prices rose 10.4%, according to the Labor Ministry. Food banks across the country have seen long queues as demand increases.
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“It’s kind of a perfect storm of higher demand, higher operating costs, less federal support,” Waide said. “It really puts a lot of pressure on food banks, food pantries across the country.”
Government assistance to address food insecurity is declining, according to Waide. Funding for federal programs, like the emergency food assistance program, is returning to pre-pandemic levels that do not match current demand.
“We need [United States Department of Agriculture] and the administration and Congress to deploy more funds for federal commodity programs that provide food to food banks,” Waide said. “We need Washington, Congress, the administration to really find ways to provide more resources to the Emergency Food Network, so that we can bring food to people in this time of crisis. »
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Demand at the Atlanta Community Food Bank declined in 2021 after Georgians returned to work after pandemic shutdowns, according to Waide. But the pantry has seen a resurgence this year.
“We’re seeing people turning to pantries for the first time in their lives,” Waide told Fox News. “The inflationary environment has really put a lot of pressure on them.”
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“These are people who are used to being on the other side of the line helping distribute food to people in need rather than being in the line themselves,” Waide added.
A food bank in Phoenix saw a 78% increase over last year, serving more than 4,000 families at its main distribution center in a single week in June, the Associated Press reported. And in Virginia, a food pantry exhausted its resources in 90 minutes on a July day, according to NBC News.
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“It’s more complicated and more expensive for us to meet this growing demand,” Waide said. “We spend more just to get the same amount of food into our system.”
But rising food costs aren’t the only increased cost food banks face, according to the Atlanta CEO.
“We’re seeing higher fuel costs for our trucks that are on the road, higher costs for our employees because we’re reacting to the same wage pressure that other companies are reacting to,” Waide told Fox News. “And that comes at a time when support from the federal government is waning.”
Thomas Catenacci contributed to this report.