Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Rising Food Costs Create Unique Challenges for Hunger-Focused Agencies

The cost of groceries has steadily climbed over the last year, with a new record increase of 13.5% set in August (Consumer Price Index). On the heels of a pandemic, that led to unprecedented demand for food services. The rising cost of food is leading even more community members to find themselves in need of help, even as less assistance may be available.

The increase in food costs has created unique challenges for hunger-focused agencies. While many were receiving an influx of support at the height of the pandemic, much of that support went away at the same time they were experiencing growing demand. This shift can be attributed, at least in part, to inflation. There is no room in would-be donors’ budgets to purchase food beyond what is necessary for their own business operations. Whereas an increase in donations during the pandemic helped nonprofit operating budgets, the decrease in donations amid rising prices is forcing organizations to spend more of their budgets on food than ever before.

To continue aiding organizations that support underserved communities, it’s crucial that we increase focus on establishing direct connections between the food industry and those in need. We Don’t Waste is a conduit between the food and hospitality industry and hunger relief agencies. Our organization recovers quality, unused food including healthy proteins, fresh produce and dairy products from grocery stores, purveyors, caterers, restaurants, meal kit services and the like, and redistributes it to pantries and other community services or via their own mobile food markets.

So far in 2022, We Don’t Waste has served more than 100 nonprofit agencies via our distribution routes, and added an eighth monthly mobile market to meet increased need; however, more opportunity exists to build bridges between the industry and neighbors in need. We introduced an app, for example, which assigns restaurant pickups—those that don’t make sense for an 18-foot truck to handle—to volunteers who then courier rescued food back to the distribution center or deliver it directly to nonprofit agencies.

It’s advancements like this one that will prove to be pivotal in uncovering as many direct lines as possible from those with excess to those with far less in the ongoing fight against hunger.

 

Arlan Preblud Founder And Executive Director Of We Dont WasteArlan Preblud is the founder and executive director of We Don’t Waste.

Why the return to “normal” is anything but for some

We Dont Waste Mobile Market Volunteers With Truck

Restaurants and venues are open again, and while consumer confidence is on the rise, we’re at a confluence of crises related to food insecurity.

In 2020, an unexpected flood of donations enabled most non-profits to continue to fulfill their missions. The demand for food-related support services is higher than ever, creating a crisis for Coloradans already facing hunger who now must manage steeply increasing food costs.

We Dont Waste Produce

Summertime is particularly challenging, as families struggle in the absence of food that’s made available during the school year through the public school system.

Over 50% of Colorado households with children do not have regular access to nutritious foods, making summer the most critical time for food insecurity in the U.S. and at home in Colorado (Hunger Free Colorado). When schools are closed for the summer, we need to be fighting harder against hunger.

Grocery costs have steadily increased over the past 18 months. In fact, overall food costs are up 2.4% year over year (Bureau of Labor Statistics June 2020-21) due to supply chain disruptions and high demand.

Because we were eating at home more in 2020, the demand for grocery staples increased which led to ongoing price increases. Many were already struggling to buy enough food to feed their families and rising prices will undoubtedly impact more and more Coloradans each month.

We Dont Waste Mobile Market Full Truck Unloading

Food banks and pantries are the safety net for people struggling to secure consistent income and therefore ongoing access to nutritious food. At We Don’t Waste, quality, unused food is recovered from food suppliers, catering companies, food distributors and others—even local professional sports venues—and distributed to organizations supporting those in need as well as directly to impacted communities, all free of charge.

With one in four adults in Colorado reporting the need to cut back or skip meals because there isn’t enough money for food (Hunger Free Colorado), community support is needed now, more than ever, to enable organizations working to end food insecurity to continue to expand their services.

We Dont Waste Truck

We Don’t Waste distributed more than 24 million servings of food via its mobile markets and nonprofit partners in 2020, and demand is not waning.

In 2020, we all faced unprecedented challenges, and we rose to help each other in times of staggering need.

In 2021, the road to recovery is not smooth for many in our community, and it’s more important than ever to support organizations focused on paving the way to a hunger-free future with less food in landfills.

Arlan Preblud Founder And Executive Director Of We Dont Waste Arlan Preblud is the Founder and CEO of We Don’t Waste.