CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The price of everything from gas to groceries is going up fast, and it’s causing more families to turn to local food banks for help.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the cost of groceries increased by nearly 12% over the past year.
At Tom Leonard’s Farmer’s Market, food prices went up about 15%. The owner of the Farmer’s Market, Tom Leonard, said inflation is affecting everyone — customers, local stores, suppliers and farmers.
“Prices are up more and we’re happy to pay it, but we have to pass those costs down to people or we wouldn’t be in business,” Leonard said.
He added that some of the most expensive products on the shelves are processed foods.
“This is something that I thought I would never see in my entire life. Chicken is more expensive than hamburger,” he said.
He added customers are coming to the store more often to buy a little food at a time and to create less waste.
“It’s tough right now,” he said. “The things that you use often — food and gas — have skyrocketed.”
At the height of the pandemic, local food pantries like the Chesterfield Food Bank distributed food to thousands of families.
“Once COVID hit, we had the two-mile backup on Route 10 that we’ve redirected to the back lot,” Nick Jenkins, the food bank’s Assistant Executive Director, said.
Jenkins said the people who started coming to them during the pandemic still need help.
“We’ve grown from serving 30 to 40,000 people a month, so that’s a significant growth,” he said. “As we take these steps coming out of COVID, our desire was to start seeing those numbers go down and the reality is, with everything going on and the current climate that we’re in, we’re not seeing that decrease yet.”
Jenkins added that as prices remain high, they’re seeing fewer products available and a decrease in donations to their food bank.
Leonard said he’s not sure when grocery prices will come back down to normal, but he’s excited to partner with more local organizations for fresher, cheaper products.