Bread of The Mighty Food Bank's pantry is where residents stop in to pick up their food. (Mistie Webb/WUFT News)

Food banks see demand increase in Gainesville as prices rise nationally

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Food banks throughout Gainesville have been seeing an increase in demand with an increase in food prices.

The need for food drives increased during the peak of the pandemic, and while those have lessened in frequency, demand remains high.

The main reason for the increase in demand is the inflation in food and gas prices. This has resulted in families not being able to afford as much food due to financial issues.

The Bread of Mighty Food Bank Development and Communication Director, Maureen Quinlan, described the impact inflation has on lower- and middle-income earners in Gainesville.

“With budgets being as they are and everything around us increasing,” Quinlan said, “families have to take a look at what other resources do they have to fulfill the needs, the basic needs that they have.”

Cuts in family budgets are inevitable when prices spike, said Sherah English, CEO at Bread of the Mighty Food Bank.

“People who used to be able to afford to go get meat every week are having to cut way back,” English said, “They’re having to go without basics that they usually would have and that’s where the food bank can come in and fill those gaps.”

With the inflation and the price of groceries on the rise, more and more people are using food banks to supplement or fully support their ability to keep food on the table again.

The food products that food banks are seeing more of a demand for are specific items from nonprofit partners, such as animal protein. This includes chicken, beef and other meats because it has become so much more expensive.

Another issue with demand increasing is that, due to the pandemic, the number of volunteers that help pick up, sort and distribute products has decreased immensely.

English further explains why they have been struggling with the lack of workers and volunteers.

“Within COVID, a lot of people were starting to return to employment,” English said, “But it was taking them a little time to get their feet back under them.”

Due to the food banks’ lack of volunteers, the demand has been harder to manage and distribute. Food banks are now on the constant search for volunteers in the area to help with the supply.

About Mistie Webb

Mistie is a contributing reporter for WUFT News and can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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