Food pantries bearing the brunt of a record high inflation period

Inflation wreaking havoc with food pantries
Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 9:47 PM CST
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) -It’s like Christmas when truckloads of food arrive, leading church groups and other organizations to gather around.

“Oak Grove UMC,” yelled one delivery man.

“This is our purpose of serving people,” said Nelson Flowers with Mt. Beulah Missionary Baptist Church in Collins.

Mississippi Food Network, Feeding America, and Extra Table are just some partners that help make that happen. In Hattiesburg, Christian Services is known for feeding people and it does that in many ways.

“One of those is through our soup kitchen and we feed people in-house every day Monday through Friday,” said Maggie West.

With inflation hitting a new 40-year high, Christain Services director, Maggie West, has noticed an uptick in meals and even food donations. But with pantry shelves, slime to none West said it’s getting tough to uphold their mission.

“It is actually probably a third more of a need than it was even at the highest point of COVID,” West said. “So even those folks, the number of unemployment was high. That number that we thought we would never be able to reach or meet the need of, it’s higher than that now,” she said.

That also rings true for one church food pantry in Sumrall.

“These shelves used to be completely full,” Gloria Garretson said. “We use to get five and six thousand pounds. What you saw unloaded today was two thousand pounds. Nothing like what we use to get.”

Gloria Garretson said although they buy some food to keep the pantry up and running… it’s the donations they depend on.

“Then we have an outside pantry that’s open 24 hours a day and we don’t monitor it,” Garretson said. “We just try to keep it supplied with food and the food disappears as soon as we get it in. And it didn’t do that last year.”

Garretson said tackling food insecurity will not change, but one thing that will is the foods families would normally get. “They don’t get good meat. They don’t get the dairy. They don’t get the cheese. They don’t get the butter. They don’t get it.”

But with extensive aid from one organization, Garretson remains hopeful.

“And now we have Extra Table and they come through so often for us,” Garretson said. “Like if I call and say do you guys have rice? I just got some rice, I’m so happy about that because we will be able to give out carbs for Christmas and Thanksgiving” she said.

Despite empty shelves and high inflation, both organizations will continue working to get what they can to supply the needs of the community.

If you’re interested in joining in on the efforts to tackle food insecurity in the Pinebelt, click here.

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