Anti-hunger advocates say inflation, supply-chain issues and a labor shortage are driving up the demand for protein, as the number of food-insecure individuals remains well above pre-pandemic levels.
Jamie Sizemore, executive director of Feeding America – Kentucky’s Heartland, said a recent donation of $60,000 worth of local meat by Marksbury Farm Market will be a game-changer for families in more than 40 Kentucky counties this holiday season.
“The prices are extremely high at the grocery store,” said Sizemore. “It’s very expensive for us even to source protein and meat at this point, here at the food bank.”
She added that even families who typically purchase meat regularly are adjusting their food-shopping habits. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food prices have increased 2.5% and restaurant prices have increased by 3.6%.
Sizemore said more families are relying on highly processed, non-perishable foods and skipping fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, and fresh meat and poultry. She added the number of people seeking help feeding their households has increased.
“This time period right now, we’re seeing definite resurgence of struggle with families,” said Sizemore. “Especially families with children. Because there’s just such a high demand for these items and they have gone up in cost.”
While food banks nationwide are currently seeing a dip in donations, Sizemore said communities in the Commonwealth have stepped up.
“Those in the agricultural community, the meat processors, those throughout the state,” said Sizemore, “they have been very generous to all of the food banks in Kentucky.”
At more than 20%, Kentucky is among a handful of states in the nation with the greatest projected food insecurity, largely driven by the pandemic, according to data from Feeding America.
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