November 30, 2022

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Food loaded for bear

Local food banks struggle to keep food on shelves as grocery prices soar

LEE COUNTY, Fla. – As grocery prices continue to soar local food banks are struggling to keep food on their shelves.

Grocery prices have risen 5.4 percent compared to October 2020. Some food pantries fear donor fatigue has set in just when they need help more than ever.

James Davis, who helps serve meals at the Fort Myers Rescue Mission, serves, cooks, and helps clean up and eats at the mission daily to help avoid the high prices at the grocery stores.

“It saves on money, saves on time. It’s a good deal,” Davis said.

But the rise in prices is straining many budgets. Stefanie Edwards with the Community Cooperative in Fort Myers said the increased food prices are having a huge impact on the budget.

Groceries at the Community Cooperative Food Pantry are in big demand.

“With the way things are going I can tell you it’s not sustainable,” Edwards said.

She said their soup kitchen which feeds thousands each week is finding ways to make meals go further.

“My chef came to me recently and said normally a case of chicken thighs that cost us $25 we paid last week $91 for which is not in our budget to do,” Edwards stressed.

Much of their food supplies come from the Harry Chapin Food Bank which relies on donations and is also struggling.

“We’re able to get by but there is not unlimited resources,” said Richard LeBer with the Harry Chapin Food Bank. “We’re having to make tough choices here and there.”

LeBer promises food for the holidays but not without a hefty price tag.

“We’re monitoring our budget on an ongoing basis,” he said. “We’ve been spending far more than normal on purchasing food all year long.”

He and others are hoping donations they rely on will keep up with the demand.