COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Inflation is impacting nearly everything, and now it’s taking a toll on local non-profits.
At Lutheran Social Services (LSS) food pantry, the need for food is so great that it is having trouble keeping up.
Director Jennifer Fralic said the pantry started seeing the demand for food increase around February, with its numbers nearly double what they were this time last year.
“If you think about it, you are used to operating on one level and then you kind of double the amount you’re doing, and all of this has happened at a time of food scarcity,” Fralic said.
She said in just 45 minutes Tuesday, 40 families made their way to LSS in South Columbus to pick up their meals for the week.
Fralic said the rapidly rising price of food is making it hard to keep up with the demand.
The pantry buys the majority of the food it distributes but relies heavily on donations from local grocery stores, which are also feeling the burn.
“Our meat donations have gone down about 50 percent as the number of people we are serving increases about 50 percent,” Fralic said. “So you can imagine the kind of decisions we have to make about being able to equitably distribute the things we do have.”
David Irick is in charge of buying the food LSS gives out. He said that in the last few months, the budget to buy that food has been stretched thin.
“Costs have probably almost doubled from the food banks down to us over the past year,” Irick said. “We are paying probably over a dollar a pound of shelf staple items right now.”
He said it’s also costing more to gas up the delivery trucks.
Volunteers and employees said they have not had to turn people away, but they are worried that time will come if the trend continues.
“It’s putting a lot of pressure on us just trying to provide what our clients want and what they are asking for,” Irick said. “And in some cases, us not being able to do it, it doesn’t feel good not being able to give people what they need.”
Fralic said they expect to give out about 1.7 million meals this year.
Lutheran Social Services is always accepting donations from the community as well.
Fralic said you can either give monetary donations or physical food donations at one of their food drives. For more on how you can help, click here.