April 18, 2014

Food bank feels impact of food price hikes

The U.S.D.A. predicts grocery prices will rise four-percent next year and the impact is already being felt at the Food Bank for the Heartland, which serves thousands of needy Iowans and Nebraskans. Brian Barks, a spokesman for the Omaha-based charity, says prices are bounding on some staple food items.

“We have seen a year-to-date increase in the price of peanut butter go up 12%,” Barks says. “That’s substantial for us, when we’re distributing anywhere between 4,500 and 5,000 jars of peanut butter every single month, that 12% adds up.” Barks says with donations down, they have no choice but to buy food to stock their shelves.

He says supplies are down significantly as we head into the busy holiday season. “The amount of donations that come from corporate supporters go down,” Barks says. “They’re not carrying as much extra as they used to. We are still receiving about 50% of our donations from corporate supporters but the amount that we’re receiving isn’t what it used to be in the past.”

He’s putting out a plea for donations of cash or non-perishable food items. “We’re down hundreds of thousands of pounds of food, large amounts of food that we simply don’t have that we did a year ago,” Barks says. “About 4% of our inventory comes from food drives but in the big picture, we need hundreds of thousands of pounds of food.”

The Food Bank for the Heartland serves 77 food pantries in Nebraska and 16 in western Iowa. Learn more at: www.foodbankheartland.org