DENVER (CBS4) – The inflation rate in the United States hit a 40-year high in March, at 8.5%. This is the fastest rate of inflation since 1981.
With higher prices on just about everything everywhere, many Colorado families are struggling to make ends meet. Even resources for those in need are feeling the pinch, like the Rocky Mountain Food Bank. The nonprofit coordinates with more than 800 food pantries across Colorado and Wyoming, delivering an average of 1.5 million meals each week.
“It affected us more than we could have imagined,” said Erin Pulling, CEO of Food Bank of the Rockies, “because we buy food by truckload.”
Inside the organization’s Denver distribution center, volunteers unload these trucks and fill the pallet shelves with various foods. From canned food to fresh produce, all of this will eventually be appreciated by people in need of food assistance.
“We’re more focused on fresh food than ever,” Pulling told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “And culturally appropriate food and high-quality food for those who need it.”
Yet, like everyone else, it’s getting more and more expensive to do.
“Almost all of the food products we buy have increased dramatically,” Pulling said. “Items we buy a lot are things like ground beef which was up 27% last year, spaghetti was up 15%, canned fruit was up 30%.”
Add to that soaring gas prices to transport food, and Pulling said the nonprofit’s monthly costs have tripled since 2019, before the pandemic.
“We now spend almost a million dollars each month on food and freight,” she said.
That 7-figure monthly cost is also being boosted by a decrease in USDA food available, she added, as well as an increase in need.
“Over the past two, two and a half years, so many people have needed food aid for the first time in their lives,” Pulling said. “We saw a slight drop, but just slight. We are still serving more people than before COVID-19. »
Even with rising costs and people trying to make ends meet, Pulling said that won’t stop the Rocky Mountain Food Bank from providing healthy, nutritious produce.
“We are working with local agricultural partners to buy fresh produce and increase the amount of food given to us,” she explained. “What this means is that we really depend more than ever on the generosity of the community.”
LINK: Rocky Mountain Food Bank