More and more hungry Americans are using food banks for the first time

The first users of the food bank

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Food pantries across the U.S. say they are struggling to keep up with demand rising food prices prompting more Americans to choose donated food.

Recent survey from Feeding America, a nonprofit network of 200 food banks, found that 155 food pantries reported a jump in the number of families coming to their doors.

“People are coming in and not only are they getting for their family, but they might have a sister or brother that they’re getting a little bit more for,” Tehma Smith Wilson, who runs a food pantry in Baltimore, told CBS News. .

The increase in the number of people seeking help from food banks is also taxing the pantries’ own resources. In the past, Wilson said her pantry typically received 700 boxes of donated food — now that number is about 100.

“But we can’t complain because something is better than nothing,” Wilson said.

Grocery store prices jumped 13% in July, the biggest one-year increase since March 1979. according to the latest Consumer Price Index data. Eggs saw the biggest jump in prices, up 38% year-on-year, while the cost of flour (up 23%), butter (up 22%) and coffee (up 20%) also soared, government data showed. to show.

These increases, along with the high cost of gasoline and other food staples, are forcing households to change the way they shop for food. A Baltimore mother of two told CBS News that her salary as a restaurant worker is not enough to cover the rising cost of groceries.

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“I even have to go to the grocery store early in the morning — like 6 or 7 a.m. — so I can get cheap meat because they sell yesterday’s meat cheaper,” she told CBS News, noting that she sometimes goes to the food pantry.

Households spent an average of $408 a week on food in June or July, up from $318 in May 2021, according to the data. LendingTree.

Crystal Jenkins, also of Baltimore, said she has to split her food purchases between the food bank and the supermarket. Jenkins, who recently took home two bags of food from the Wilson Food Bank, said the items would last her family of six for two days.

“And then I’ll go back to the pantry again and again,” Jenkins said.

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