Food pantries face rising costs ahead of holidays

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Many local food pantries are trying to adapt to rising food prices as they prepare for holiday need.

North End Community Ministry in Grand Rapids is seeing higher prices this year, especially on perishable items. P.J. Hefferan, the pantry coordinator, said the increases are the most dramatic she has seen.

“The shelf stable food, canned foods and vegetables and fruits, are generally about 4.5% to 5% more this year,” Hefferan said. “Our hams and chickens, turkeys for our holiday baskets, are anywhere from 8.5% to 10% more.”

Purchasing items can also be difficult with backed up supply chains.

“We have never had our eyebrows raised to the prices of meats. For example, a small ham is roughly $3 a pound,” Hefferan said.

Nick Grinwis, the social services manager with The Salvation Army of Kent County, says its food pantry has not seen a noticeable increase on nonperishable food it purchases through a food bank, but other items like meats, dairy and fresh produce have increased.

“Next door, we have a senior program that they serve about 200 meals a week and they’ve seen an increase in some of their food costs there because … the meals are served more on a regular basis,” Grinwis said.

The Salvation Army is working to adapt to the changes and maintain service for those in need.

“We are budget savvy with what we can do and if there’s an alternative, we might order that and maybe not order as much of an item if we’ve seen an increase in price,” Grinwis said.

Pantries are hopeful prices will stabilize soon.

“When that happens we’ll be very glad. We can provide more and spend more,” Hefferan said.

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