Inflation causing record number of families to seek assistance for Thanksgiving

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — High prices have led to a greater need for Harvesters, who partners with more than 800 agencies in Kansas and Missouri, this holiday season.

During this fiscal year, the nonprofit is providing food assistance to more than 226,000 people every month. And the school pantry program grew significantly from 17 participating schools in 2020-21 to 34 in 2021-22.

“The number of people that are visiting pantries, mobile distributions, kitchens is higher than it has been pre-pandemic — it’s at levels very similar to what it was during most of the pandemic,” said Stephen Davis, president and CEO of Harvesters Community Food Network.

With the holidays around the corner, Harvesters expects demand to go up, but the problem is inflation.

Higher prices are eating away at food and operating costs for the nonprofit. One dollar doesn’t go as far for harvesters as it used to due to inflation and other economic stresses.

Meanwhile, resources that were put in place during the pandemic are impacting some of the most vulnerable populations.

“A lot of the resources we had during the pandemic, whether that was federal funding and some one-time donations, are just no longer in place, and the universal feeding program for children has all ended,” Davis said.

Harvesters continues to rely heavily on donations and is encouraging people to support their mission by making a monetary or canned food donation.

“We all know that children who don’t have enough to eat, it’s hard to go to school, it’s hard to be ready to learn, it’s hard to be prepared for that school day,” Davis said. “And our senior citizens know that if they are unable to have access to food, it’s hard to live independently.”

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