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Chicago area food pantries feel inflation squeeze ahead of Thanksgiving

Chicago area food pantries feel inflation squeeze ahead of Thanksgiving
Chicago area food pantries feel inflation squeeze ahead of Thanksgiving 02:43

CHICAGO (CBS) – Thanksgiving dinner is going to cost more this year thanks to inflation.

Rising food costs, coupled with supply chain issues are really putting the squeeze on local food pantries. CBS 2's Lauren Victory visited a community pantry in Woodridge that's facing staggering numbers.

Organizers said a Thanksgiving dinner last year cost as little as $12 to put together thanks to buying in bulk and other ways they can subsidize.

But this year, it will cost them at least $20 to create the same meal.

The sky used to be the limit at West Suburban Community Pantry. That was when 250 households came through a month. Now they're serving almost 750 families.

Xandra Cook is a regular.

"This really helped supplement our income really. It's been a lifesaver," she said.

Lately, she noticed her disability check doesn't go as far at the grocery store.

"It's $3.35 for eggs, for those who don't know it outside of Chicago," she said. "This is ridiculous."

Inflation isn't just affecting clients' wallets. It's affecting the pantry's. 

Donated dollars can't buy as much and extra supplies that used to be dropped off from area stores aren't coming.

No surplus thanks to supply chain issues.

Rick Wloszek is experiencing the same problem as head of procurement at the Glen Ellyn food pantry.

"In the month of January, we were purchasing $2,300 per month from the food bank," Wloszek said. "Last month, it was over $6,500."

The pain in their pockets is worsened by a shortage of subsidized products thanks to higher demand and supply chain struggles. In some cases, they're forced to pay retail rates.

"In August, we spent $775 at the grocery store in order to accommodate all the needs of our neighbors. In October, it was up to $2,200," said Laura Glaza, executive director of the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry.

The fear is prices and need will rise as the holidays approach.

"I can't imagine what ham and turkey is gonna cost this year," Cook said.

Cook hopes compassion from the public increases as well.

"I don't expect them to give, but I sure do appreciate it when they do," she said.

Organizers in Glen Ellyn and in Woodridge are planning for several food drives this holiday season to fill their gaps.

In fact, Thursday is the first day of Harvest Week for the West Suburban Community Pantry. They've placed bins for food and toy donations at various locations in the area.

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