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Lines Lengthen at Local Food Banks as Inflation Rises

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Tam Vo, right, a senior Biochemistry major at the University of Texas in Austin, loads a box of food into a truck. She is from Katy and volunteers with the Central Texas Food Bank. | Image by Jordan Vonderhaar/The Texas Tribune

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Lines at local food banks continue to grow longer as more residents struggle against rising food costs and inflation.

Trisha Cunningham, CEO of the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB), explained, “As interest rates continue to go up, that’s making the needs worse.”

Last year NTFB provided 125.6 million meals to local families and distributed over 37 million pounds of produce, but current economic conditions have increased the number of people seeking assistance. Demand has grown to such a degree that food banks in Dallas were forced to turn away over 100 vehicles of people seeking assistance on Friday.

Likewise, the CEO of Tarrant Area Food Bank, Julia Butner, commented, “When I talked to folks in the cars, they are working, but their paycheck is not going as far because the basic necessities like food are more expensive.”

She explained, “It’s kind of the perfect storm because all of the grants and federal support we received during the pandemic has discontinued. And because of supply chain issues, our food industry donations are down by about 24%.”

Brant Wilbourn, the associate director of commodity and regulatory activities for the Texas Farm Bureau, described how increasing costs are affecting the entire food industry.

He said, “Consumers are seeing inflation but also producers as well, with all the input prices that they’re having to pay for — whether it be fertilizer, fuel, or just parts for their equipment — to make sure they can get the crop to harvest and get it to market.”

Addressing the issue, Texas Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller announced earlier this year that Texas food banks would receive $95 million in taxpayer money from the Food Bank Capacity Building Grant Program. The North Texas Food Bank will receive a total of $12,067,659. Despite this, they will enter the “next fiscal year with a budget deficit.”

This trend is not isolated to the DFW area, however. Across the country, food banks are struggling with lengthening lines, growing demand, and increasing costs due to inflation. For example, locations in Phoenix saw a 78% increase in families seeking assistance from last year, and over 610,000 pounds of food are being distributed daily in Houston.

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