Food Bank Dealing with Rising Costs
COLUMBIA - The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri explained on Wednesday how the various costs of providing food are on the climb. But upon discussing these costs at their monthly board meeting the night before, the food bank remains determined to carry out business as usual.
The Food Bank for Central & Northest Missouri, which is affiliated with Feeding America, is the only food bank in the state, and only one of five in the country that gives all of its food away for free. Its is partnered with 135 hunger relief organizations, such as pantries and soup kitchens, as well as 126 schools. The 'Buddy Pack' program provides food for children when school is out on the weekends and holidays.
"Last year, we distributed 27.4 million pounds of food, for free, but somebody had to pay for that. Those bills fall on the food bank. Thankfully, we have tremendous partners that help us pay for those bills," said Peggy Kirkpatrick, the executive director of the food bank.
Kirkpatrick says that providing the food for free is obviously a large cost on its own, but it's the high fuel costs, as well as the rising cost of food that are making operations more expensive.
She explained how not only does the food bank have to pay for the freight to bring the food in, it also has to pay for the diesel fuel to get the food out. In addition, she said food that would normally cost $20 now costs $40 or $50. On top of these costs, the food bank has also played a role in providing food for those affected by disasters this year.
Kirkpatrick described last year as a "record-breaking year" for the food bank in terms of things like number of people served and the amount of food distributed. But already this year, the food bank is more than 300,000 pounds ahead of the food distributed last year at this time.
"In addition to the food costs going up, in addition to the fuel costs going up, the number of people needing food assistance is also continuing to climb," said Kirkpatrick.
The food bank is serving an additional 13 to 14,000 people this year in comparison to last year. It helped provide food for 97,000 people per month last year.
While Kirkpatrick said there were "no surprises" at the board meeting on Tuesday, the high costs of food, in particular, is what is keeping those at the food bank hyperaware of efficiency.
"To me, normal practice is like any other business would do that's concerned about cost," said Charles Forbis, the warehouse manager for the food bank.
Forbis explained how those in the warehouse are going about things just like they normally would, while cutting costs wherever they can. He explained how if food is all going to the same place, they will do their best to put everything on one truck instead of two. Though it's harder on those distributing the food, it helps cut fuel costs.
But despite the rising costs, Kirkpatrick says the board doesn't ask where they can cut costs, but instead how they can continue to provide just as much food for those in need.
"We stand as a testimony to the providence of God and the goodness of people. As long as the good Lord and the people around us don't quit, we won't either," said Kirkpatrick.
To learn more about the Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri and ways you can help, click here.