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Inflation affecting food banks, hungry Pennsylvanians

by: Daniel Hamburg, Ben Schad Posted: Mar 30, 2022 / 11:33 PM EDT Updated: Mar 30, 2022 / 11:33 PM EDT

SUSQUEHANNA TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) — Inflation continues to affect Pennsylvanians every day and it’s leading to longer lines at food pantries.

Plus, extra federal help for the SNAP program could go away next month if the Biden administration doesn’t extend it.

The cost of canned meats are up in some cases over 25% and canned vegetables by 10% to 25%. It’s a daily dance for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank to make sure its partners have the food they need.

At the peak of the pandemic, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank served 500,000 individuals. Now it’s serving 350,000. The number dropped, but for how long?

“Here early in 2022 and certainly in March we’re seeing this steady increase where we know folks are dealing with the cost inflation,” said Joe Arthur, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.

That’s one big reason. The other is less federal assistance that many people received during the pandemic.

“The child tax credit, stimulus payments, all of that, so we are seeing the impact of that in the household budgets,” Arthur said.

Executive Director Joe Arthur says the food bank is getting fewer food donations, meaning they need to buy more.

“The prices of those truckloads of food that we buy are also going up so for us, that’s about seven or 8% above where we thought it would be, which is for us, that’s over a million dollars extra,” Arthur said.

But thankfully he says donors are being very generous.

“We’re substituting. We’re bringing in even more fresh produce, frozen foods, frozen vegetables as best we can to make up for it,” Arthur said.

While the food bank watches its budget, many families could soon need help, with extra snap benefits set to expire on April 15.

“To have $100 go away is a big deal. And if you’re not making ends meet at home, you know, our food bank and our partners can help with that, so we do expect that’s going to put some folks into the pantry line,” Arthur said.

Snap benefits are tied to the federal public health emergency declaration.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services says the federal government has indicated it intends to extend. Pennsylvania will continue to request the additional allotments each month as long as the federal PHE remains in place.

“We’re just asking our donors and our supporters, our volunteers, we need your help. We need your donations. Things are getting tight for people out there,” Arthur said.


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