COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — September is Hunger Action Month, and NBC4 — along with parent company Nexstar — is partnering with our local Feeding America foodbank, the Mid-Ohio Food Collective, to fight hunger in central Ohio.

This year the rising cost of food and other essentials has put a strain on local families. Foodbanks have also been hit hard by inflation. Due to a decrease in food donations, supply chain issues, and the end of pandemic assistance from the federal government, foodbanks are now spending 40% more on food purchases, according to Feeding America.

Food insecurity has become particularly serious recently as more households turn to foodbanks to make ends meet. Statistics from the USDA show that households with the lowest income spend nearly 30% of their budget on food, while the highest-income households spent less than 10% of their income on food. Additionally, the USDA Economic Research Service shows an 8.5%-9.5% increase in the cost of at-home food in 2022 vs. 2021.

An increase in demand and a reduction in donated food have both put a strain on foodbanks, Feeding America has discovered. A survey of foodbanks in its network revealed that 70% expect to spend more on food purchases in FY23 than in FY22. Also, 43% of foodbanks reported they will be operating under a budget deficit in FY23, requiring the use of their reserve funds. Feeding America noted it is planning for a nearly 40% decrease in Federal Commodity food pounds in FY23, and foodbanks will not be able to make up this loss with donated food sources.

Feeding America found the pandemic is still continuing to impact the economy and household budgets and not everyone is recovering from its effects at the same rate. The organization stated that continued investments are needed to “sustain and deepen its response to food insecurity in the United States during the pandemic and beyond.” Its recent surveys of foodbanks showed that most foodbanks are reporting that they are currently experiencing greatly increased or sustained demand for food assistance on a national level, with little decrease.

Additional statistics from Feeding America show that from February 2022 to May 2022, foodbanks have reported experiencing the following supply chain challenges: 

  • Around 70% say food donations are down
  • Around 95% say food purchase costs are up
  • Around 90% say they are paying more for transportation costs for food sourcing and food distribution
  • Around 75% say USDA foods are down
  • Around 30% cited other challenges including labor shortages, shipping delays, lack of nutritious food options available, and the types & quantity of food being low due to supply chain issues