Food banks see donation shortages linked to inflation

second harvest building nashville
Posted at 6:52 PM, Nov 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-23 20:04:09-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — This season, we've seen a lot of people stepping up to provide Thanksgiving meals to those in need. Of course, hunger is a year-round problem, and something's happening that's taking a toll on some our food banks.

"Demand is up and continuing to rise due to inflation," said Kimberly Molnar of Second Harvest Food Bank. "We're down 1.7 million pounds on donated food versus last year."

Second Harvest of Middle Tennessee is certainly not alone. The national Feeding America charity says food donations dropped 7% since last year.

"Ultimately, that client gets less food than they would have gotten a year ago," said Molnar.

At many food banks across the country, people donate less food because money's tighter. For Second Harvest, though, there's a bigger issue.

"Most of our food comes from grocery stores," Molnar continued. "The grocery stores have supply chain issues, and now, because of inflation, when they mark down, customers snap that up because food costs so much to buy. All that translates to less food for us."

"We do get almost all of our food from Second Harvest," said Peter Martino, chief operating officer for the Martha O' Bryan Center in Cayce Homes. "We have seen elevated need in the pandemic, and that has really stayed steady and higher than before the pandemic through today. Household budgets are getting trickier going into the holidays. Our average salary in this neighborhood, for example, is under $15,000 a year. Those wages just aren't keeping up with inflation. There's more need, especially at the food bank."

Martino said the good news is they are starting to see an increase in donations through their website.

Molnar said people tend to be more conscious of food insecurity on a week like this. With the need this strong, she's pushing for donations and volunteers.

"It's important to remember hunger never takes a holiday," she said. "While we're all gathered around with big meals and big feasts, we need to remember our fellow Tennesseans."