Inflation is putting pressure on feeding Virginia families

Posted at 6:10 PM, May 11, 2022

RICHMOND, Va. -- Inflation eased slightly in April after months of relentless increases but remained near a four-decade high, making it hard for millions of American households to keep up with surging prices. Consumer prices jumped 8.3% from a year ago, below the 8.5% year-over-year surge in March.

Still, there are signs that inflation may be becoming more entrenched.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, so-called core prices jumped twice as much from March to April as they did the previous month. Inflation could remain high well into 2023, leaving many Americans burdened by price increases that have outpaced pay raises.

Especially hurt are lower-income and Black and Hispanic families, who on average spend a greater proportion of their incomes on gas, food, and rent.

Also impacted are nonprofits like Feed More in Richmond. The organization helps food banks in dozens of counties and cities around Central Virginia. Feed More officials said last summer they had seemingly gotten over the surge in demand driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the rising cost of everything has resulted in an increase in demand.

For Shatrice Johnson, the end of a trip to the grocery store -- serves as a reminder of the ongoing inflation issue.

"I don't want to look at the price," she said with a laugh. "It's going to be high."

Like many Americans, rising food and fuel costs have cut into her budget.

"The extra money that you don't have anymore," she said.

In data released Wednesday, overall inflation in the U.S. eased for the first time since August, but some sectors like food -- continue to increase and remain in the double digits. Virginia gas prices, according to AAA Mid Atlantic, are tied for the all-time high at $4.25 for a gallon of regular.

As higher prices have lasted for months, food banks across the country and locally report it was driving up demand for their services.

Feed More said after declines in the second half of 2021, it has seen a 15-percent increase in visits in the first three months of 2022.

"Prices going up puts them on the edge," Feed More COO Rick Gliot said. "They have to make tough choices between gasoline, food, healthcare, transportation, whatever it happens to be and we're an easy outlet for people to access."

The Henrico Community Food Bank, founded in late 2021 because of the need for these types of services, said the situation would not improve anytime soon.

"Those of us probably weren't thinking about food insecurity are really that much closer to watching the pennies and it definitely has an impact," Sudeshna Das-Menezes, Henrico Community Food Bank founder, said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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