GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) - As inflation continues to hit the pockets of hardworking Coloradans it's also causing major headaches for food pantries across the state. The Weld Food Bank in northern Colorado said they've seen a 25% increase in demand for their services in recent months as the price for gasoline and groceries climbs to record highs.
As a result of the growing cost of goods, donations to the pantry have plummeted as more and more people are seeking help. The surge in demand and news comes right as the pantry sees its regular summer surge, largely associated with students being home from classes.
"I have been through a recession and several disasters. The need was great, but the supply chain was fine. This is like the perfect storm," said Bob O'Connor, CEO of the Weld Food Bank. "I am very much concerned. I have a feeling this is going to go on for quite some time."
Chief Development Officer Stephanie Gaush told CBS4 there has been a domino effect when it comes to the challenges the food bank has experienced.
"It is absolutely a double-edged sword. We are seeing our costs go up. At the same time, we are seeing the amount of people in need go up," Gausch said. "The food bank as a whole is seeing the cost of product go up, and the cost of transportation on all of those things have increased for us as well."
Before the issues around inflation and the pandemic, the Weld Food Bank was able to purchase products at significantly discounted rates that they needed. They were also getting regular donations from grocery stores and even getting shipments of excess fruits and vegetables from other food banks in states like California and Arizona.
However, those services have largely came to a halt in recent months.
"We have seen that all but cease," Gausch said.
Food banks in other states are experiencing similar increases in demand with lower levels of donations. When there are extra foods available, often times the Weld Food Bank has a difficult time finding a CDL driver who is able to ship the foods.
"All of that food has dried up," O'Connor said. "They are feeling the same pinch we are as well."
At a recent mobile food pantry the Weld Food Bank reported a significant increase in those needing help. They normally would serve more than 300 families at the site in a day. However, during their most recent visit, nearly 1,000 families showed up in one day for help.
O'Connor encouraged those who are able to donate to the food bank. While money is most needed at this time, those who run stores with extra goods are asked to donate.
Also, if you have a personal garden at your home, the food bank also accepts donations of your excess fruits and vegetables.
"Every little bit matters, and during this time it matters a great-great deal," O'Connor said. "The one thing we know is we are going to do everything we have to do to help our community."
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