Forty years ago, America was facing rampant inflation, and during that economic downturn, the Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) was created to help feed hungry individuals and families. Today, inflation is at a 40-year high, and the TAFB is requesting help to meet the needs of the communities it serves.
The TAFB serves 12 counties in North Texas: Bosque, Cooke, Denton, Erath, Hill, Hood, Johnson, Palo Pinto, Parker, Somervell, Tarrant, and Wise. Each year, the organization distributes nearly 40 million meals to people struggling with hunger.
According to the food bank’s website, 1 in 8 people and 1 in 6 children face hunger in the areas of North Texas that it serves.
Lately, the number of those in need is increasing, as inflation, supply chain issues, and the rising cost of groceries are causing more and more people to become “food insecure.” Demand for the food bank is reaching the same levels as it did during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, donations and funding for the food bank are dwindling.
The TAFB reported a 22% decline in food donations from grocery stores.
In addition, record-high gas prices have added to the expenses that the food bank must cover to continue its work. Fuel costs for the organization’s 14 distribution trucks have more than doubled, according to Julie Butner, TAFB’s CEO.
Typically, the food bank stocks approximately 3 million pounds of food on its shelves, but its inventory has dwindled to about one-third that amount, says Butner.
She noted that for the first time, the TAFB has had to tap into its general fund to purchase food, a cost that was not factored into the budget.
So far this year, the food bank has spent $3.1 million over budget on food purchases.
Butner said that the TAFB is distributing 75-80 pounds of food per vehicle when in the past, the food bank would have given out 100 pounds of food to each car.
Butner is requesting donations of food, money, or time. She says there have been fewer volunteers coming to the food bank recently, possibly due to the rising cost of gasoline.
Despite the rising costs of providing food for the community, the TAFB continues to host food distribution events.