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Michigan food banks continue to be stretched thin by inflation

Groceries, including milk, eggs and produce, sitting on a counter.
Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio

Food prices have been increasing for months, and food banks in Michigan say they are struggling to keep up.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 7.5% annual increase in food prices in the Midwest in its latest data.

Food costs in the Detroit metropolitan area rose slightly more, going up by 7.9% since April 2022.

While food banks often receive federal funding, some food banks say it is still not enough to meet local food assistance needs.

"A lot of our funding basically goes to purchase food. Right now, our only way [of] keeping up with the need is by buying a lot more food than we've ever had to buy, probably in the history of our local food bank here,” said Ken Estelle, the CEO of Feeding America West Michigan.

He estimates that its food purchases have more than doubled since last year, increasing the food bank’s spending by approximately 80%.

Estelle emphasized that as inflation strains food banks’ resources, it also puts many families in difficult positions.

"First, families can afford it. Then the second month, it [gets] a little harder. Then after the third month, it's like really hard," said Estelle. "And now when you're in the fourth and fifth month, you've consumed your savings, you've consumed whatever funding you've had."

Estelle explained that the consequences of inflation will only compound over time, pressuring affected families to choose between paying rent or buying groceries.

He says the state urgently needs to increase access to public resources to meet people's basic needs.

Priya Vijayakumar started her Newsroom Internship in January 2023. She is interested in science/health reporting and making the facts more accessible to all!
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