Near-record inflation sees demand at Snohomish County’s food banks outpace mid-pandemic levels

Jul 22, 2022, 11:26 AM

Food bank inflation...

(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Food banks across the country are scrambling to meet the need for food in their communities, and the Snohomish County Food Bank Coalition is no exception. The food bank is experiencing a “dire need” for more food donations and funding as demand from visitors is reaching record levels, and the likely culprit: inflation.

With inflation in the Puget Sound region at a 40-year high, many in the community are struggling with providing food for themselves or their families. Grocery store prices have risen the most, as many products have increased anywhere from 13 to 20% from last year.

Inflation hits 40-year high in Western Washington

This has led to a demand unlike any other, says Chris Hatch the Senior Director of Hunger Prevention at Volunteers of America Western Washington (VOAWW) which runs the Snohomish County Food Bank.

“We have not seen this many people come to us for help ever, even during the height of the pandemic in 2020 or 2021,” Hatch said. “We’ve seen a 138% increase in Everett since just April, and we cannot keep up.”

Many of the new clients coming to the food bank are those from dual- and middle-income households that haven’t had to use food banks in the past, but due to economic conditions are coming for help.

Another cause is donor fatigue, says Steve Corsi, President and CEO of VOAWW, which has people donating less and less. After seeing a huge increase in donations at the start of the pandemic, allowing the coalition to increase services to those that need it, that funding is drying up. Donations of food and funds are down as people, governments and businesses tighten and adjust their budgets.

“We’ve heard the word ‘crisis’ tossed around a lot, but this really is a crisis,” Corsi said. “People are hurting and hungry in our communities, and we’re running lower on resources. It’s challenging, and it’s starting to keep me up at night.”

Donations to local food banks are encouraged. Donations to VOAWW’s Distribution Center, which provides food to 17 food banks and 18 meal programs across Snohomish County, can be made at www.voaww.org/donate

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Near-record inflation sees demand at Snohomish County’s food banks outpace mid-pandemic levels