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Alameda County Food Bank faces dual strain of rising demand, inflation

Alameda Food Bank faces dual strain of increasing demand, inflation
Alameda Food Bank faces dual strain of increasing demand, inflation 02:22

ALAMEDA – Nationally, inflation has hit 9.1% the highest in 40 years. While the Bay Area didn't see a jump to those levels, it was high enough and food banks are seeing a huge increase in the need for food and the cost to do business.

Those at the Alameda County Community Food Bank have noticed a line of cars starting at 6:30 in the morning, with people waiting to grab a box of groceries. This as donations to keep dwindling.

From the drive thru, to those standing in line, the Alameda County Community Food Bank hasn't been this busy in years.

Michael Altfest, the food bank's Director of Community Engagement and Marketing said, "Right now we're seeing a confluence of forces that are coming together and we're experiencing demand as high as we have seen at any point in the pandemic."

Altfest said the walk-up line has grown by 100 to 150 people in the last couple of months. The cost to provide food is not only driven up by the increase in need, but also inflation.

"Prior to the pandemic, our food costs were about $250,000 a month. Now we are regularly hitting up to $1.5 million per month in food purchases," Altfest told KPIX 5.

The food bank also has a fleet of ten vans to make deliveries throughout the county. In the Bay Area, inflation saw a 6.8% increase last month, with gasoline contributing the most to the increase in June prices.

"As a result of the increase in gas alone, we had to increase our budget for fuel by 66% for this coming year. To give you an idea of what that means, it's about what we would pay for 100,000 meals worth of food," Altfest said.

Food banks can use every donation, no matter how small it may be.

"An important thing for people to understand is that if you're a private business, you get to pass along that cost to your customers. Food banks don't do that. We're absorbing the costs for our community right now," Altfest said.

The food bank did get tremendous support at the start of the pandemic. Those funds were put into reserve and it's that money that's helping them to serve the community.

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