(NewsNation) — The increase in families facing food insecurity has some food banks struggling to meet new demand.
The stockpile at the LA Food Bank moves fast, with 2 million pounds of food rotating in and out every week. These days, pantries are serving a new wave of first-timers.
As he does every week, volunteer Sam McWhorter picks up donations for the Boys and Girls Club of LA from the LA Food Bank. He says community need has spiked along with inflation.
“We have a lot of new faces,” McWhorter said. “We get more people coming for food, but we don’t have as much food to give them.”
Before the pandemic, the LA Food Bank was helping agencies feed about 300,000 people a week. It’s now up to a steady 800,000 people.
Michael Flood, president and CEO of the food bank, said first-timers are often reluctant recipients.
“For many, there’s a worry, a concern, about the stigma or just kind of admitting that they’re in this difficult situation of making the decision between food and rent, food and transportation, food and medication. It’s a real struggle,” Flood said.
First-time recipients are turning up at food banks across America in many states, including South Carolina, Ohio, New York, Texas and Alabama.
In some cases, the assistance also feeds a confidence to forge on.
“When you can’t provide your basic needs like your food, when you’re stressed, not able to feel like everything is met 100%, then that stability is not going to be there,” food recipient Katheryne Knight said.
Inflation is also impacting operating costs of food banks. Many pantries are no longer able to provide as much meat, as they work to keep donations coming and going.
“So that’s a challenge for us here. The team works on that every day, figuring out, how can we efficiently get as much food out to the community as possible? But yeah, it’s causing some pain,” Flood said.
Feeding America representatives tell NewsNation that 65 percent of their food banks are reporting an increase in the number of people served in just the past few months.