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CNY Food Bank feeling the impact of inflation this holiday season

Boxes of toliet tissue and canned goods are stored in a warehouse.
WAER File Photo
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WAER
Inside the Food Bank of Central New York warehouse, prepackaged food and housing necessities are sorted and stored.

Thanksgiving Day is approaching, and most Central New Yorkers are seeing firsthand how inflation has impacted the price of their holiday feast. And for some, it might mean a trip to their community's food pantry.

The Food Bank of Central New York works with most emergency food network partners. Chief Development Officer Lynn Hy said food needs shot up in October after a relatively stable first quarter of their fiscal year.

"Some have seen decreases, but the bulk of them, I would say, are seeing increased numbers," Hy said. "Some of those increases we're seeing are up to 40% higher, and some might just be a few families, just a couple percentages higher. But overall, I would say there has been an increase in demand, and we are expecting that to last for several months."

Inflation also means the food bank can't purchase more food to satisfy necessities. Hy said the food bank is turning to its food manufacturer and distributor partners to supplement the food they can't buy with individual or corporate donations. But she said they also work closely with retail stores, where perfectly good food might be disposed of.

'"If we're talking about produce, low-fat dairy products, lean protein, we want to be able to access those items, have them donated here to the food bank, so that we can get them out into the hands of people that need them," Hy said. "Because those types of items are often the most expensive items in the store, but have the most nutritional value."

The food bank has told donors about the effects inflation has on their service, and Hy said they've stepped up with food and monetary donations to help them keep pace with demand. Hy said they're still dealing with supply chain issues that have plagued the system since the pandemic and high fuel costs that have cut into their door-to-door delivery expenses.

Editor's note: The Food Bank of CNY is a financial supporter of WAER.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at srwillis@syr.edu.