Local food pantries seeing increased demand, as many LV families struggle with food insecurity
Justin Backover | Jun 6, 2022
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - As food prices keep going up and up, more and more families are looking for help, with demand at its highest ever.
The consumer price index shows food prices are up 9.4% from a year ago. And it's forcing more and more people to look for help and putting more and more demand on our food pantries. Many are seeing a more than 50% increase.
"We know that more than 1 in ten people are experiencing food insecurity. That means that they may not have access to fresh, healthy, nutritious food, and frankly may not know where their next meal is coming from," said Laura McHugh, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.
McHugh says that includes one in six Lehigh Valley children, and the problem appears to keep getting worse.
"To give a little sense of where we've come from over that last two years, that is about a 35-40% increase over the last two years since the pandemic started, and when you look at some populations like our Lehigh Valley seniors, we've actually seen an increase of up to 60%," McHugh said.
Inflation is making the problem worse.
Second Harvest Food Bank says there's been a 60% increase in the number of households seeking assistance from their pantries. The food bank's pantries served around 19,000 households in April. There was a 10% jump for May.
In April and May Second Harvest distributed the most food ever, around 1 million pounds.
There's also been a jump in SNAP applications.
"We've noticed it here in the food pantry, we've seen an over 50% rise in the number of families using food pantries in the last three months," said Marc Rittle, Executive Director of New Bethany Ministries.
Rittle says thankfully they've been able to keep up on the food side, but says inflation has hit them even harder when it comes to providing affordable housing.
"Unfortunately, I have to say I think it's only going to get worse and it's going to be while till we see some relief," Rittle said.
If you're looking for assistance, call 211 or go to pa211east.org to find a food pantry near you.
The food pantry at New Bethany is open Monday to Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.