Food banks and pantries experience economic problems

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Rising food prices are putting some food banks and pantries in a difficult position.

Joyce Hillmer runs the pantry of the Town and Country Christian Church in Topeka.

“It’s quite a task to keep up with that,” she said. “People need food, they call, they come. As soon as we fill up the shelves, it just flies out.”

Hillmer said they have a real need for shelf-stable foods, like canned tuna, canned green beans and peanut butter.

However, it is not only the Church that is seeing an impact, but also their network of Food Bank Harvesters.

“Harvesters have been very good for us, but they’re also exhausted,” Hillmer said.

Paula Pratt, Director of Community Engagement at Harvesters, added: “The need is huge. We have gone from a pandemic crisis to an economic crisis.”

She said demand for groceries is 20-30% higher than normal as grocery prices continue to rise.

“Prices are up about 11% compared to last year,” Pratt said, “families are struggling to put food on the table, pay their utility bills, day care, gas and all the different things that families do to struggle.”

Since donations are also small, Hillmer said it’s the perfect storm. “People are used to spending lavishly and now we need to think about being more frugal in all areas of our lives,” she said.

Hillmer also suggests that those who can look into their own pantries to help meet the needs of others.

“I think when people clear out their pantries, they’re going to find things in there that they don’t use, and we’re going to use them here.”

The Town and Country Christian Church accepts donations Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and Sunday mornings. Then those in need can also get free groceries from their pantry. The church is located at 4925 SW 29th St. near Westlake Ace Hardware.

To donate to Harvesters, visit their website or drop off groceries at any Dillons store. To find a grocery store near you, click here.

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