Rainier Valley Food Bank sees increased demand due to rising food prices
SEATTLE – Rising prices at the grocery store aren’t just affecting the families who shop there, it’s also impacting local food banks, who are bearing the costs and facing even greater demand for food.
Deliveries were flying out the door of the Rainier Valley Food Bank on Saturday, as volunteer drivers lined up to pick up bags of groceries for those in need.
“I love being around people who are always helping, because I was raised that way,” said Lawrence Odom, a longtime food bank volunteer.
Lawrence said working at the food bank is good for the soul. He said that in difficult times, acts of service keep him going.
“A lot of the time I like being around people and seeing people doing good and trying to make it in this world because the world isn’t what it used to be,” Lawrence said.
For many, times have become more difficult financially.
“The need has been incredible,” said Otis Pimpleton, another volunteer.
Pimpleton said even before COVID, the need was growing.
“Everyone needs food now, and you know, we’re really busy trying to get it to them,” Otis said. “Even before COVID and all that, the need grew every year.”
Otis said the rising prices have also taken a toll on people’s budgets.
The food bank cited the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which recently reported a 9-16% rise in the cost of food. Food bank workers say it affects everyone at all income levels and has caused an increase in demand for the Rainier Valley Food Bank.
“Inflation really plays a role,” Otis said.
“One of the things that infuriates is the rate of inflation, but also when the stimulus checks ran out – people who maybe could manage without coming to the food bank found out they had to come to the food bank,” said Gloria Hatcher. –Mays, managing director of the Rainier Valley Food Bank.
The food bank reports a year-over-year increase in customer visits in 2022. During the soft reopening of “in-person shopping,” where customers choose their own items, around 180 people showed up, with only 20 outgoing invitations.
The food bank estimates that 500 to 600 people could turn up each day when ‘shopping days’ fully reopen.
FRONT COVER: Rising food prices could cause food banks to cut services to those in need
“We see our service as one that helps stabilize a monthly budget, which you can use the food bank as a safety valve for your expenses each month.” Gloria said.
Otis said the food bank has also been creative in working around rising food prices within its own budget.
“There are a lot of things that I like to order at astronomical prices. We always get a lot of good food here, but we have to be selective about where we buy it, buying it when it’s in season, and stuff like that,” Otis said.
“We moved from a small place to this beautiful big place,” Gloria said. “It’s expensive, and we’re looking to make more improvements here, so we can expand our programming.”
Gloria hopes to expand her services in the future.
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“We’re definitely looking to see if the community will continue to support our growth here,” Gloria said. “It’s very important to us. The work we do is very important to the community. So I just want to say how lucky we are to have found this place and how much we hope the community will continue to support us. sustain.”
The food bank also had free showers on site Saturday for those in need.