PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – Rising food prices due to inflation are hitting local food banks and pantries.
As inflation puts a squeeze on wallets, Claire Crone, the program director at Sophia’s Kitchen in Peoria, said the number of community members coming to their Friday pantry is increasing.
“We had been serving about 60 people each week and we’re now seeing about 100 come,” Crone said.
Inflation is also impacting the organization itself. Over the last couple of years, Crone said food costs have jumped by nearly a third.
“When you’re making thousands of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and you’re trying to provide all of that, it’s very expensive,” Crone said.
Willa Lucas, the coordinator of the East Bluff Community Center Food Pantry, said cost concerns aren’t limited to food.
“Everything else, the utilities to keep it going, those are going up. The price of bags,” she said.
Surging prices have made finding a good deal as important as ever.
“I watch sales, I compare prices,” Lucas said.
Crone said thanks to donors, Sophia’s Kitchen has been able to weather the storm, but that could change during the busy summer season.
“Usually in the summer we see an increase in people coming, so it may be more and more difficult for us to provide as much as we usually do,” Crone said.
Despite costs, both Crone and Lucas said their goal of feeding the community will push forward.
“We have no choice,” Lucas said. “It’s been our mission since 2015 when we opened. There is a need in our area,” she added.
“We just do the best that we can,” Crone said.
Lucas also said due to donations, the food bank hasn’t had to ask the East Bluff Community Center board for additional assistance. She added that if inflation doesn’t start trending in the other direction, that may not be the case for much longer.