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Arkansas Food Bank feeling impact of inflation as supplies dwindle

The Arkansas Food bank struggles to stay well stocked as a direct result of the aftermath of the pandemic.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Inside the large warehouse for the Arkansas Food Bank, you would typically find rows upon rows of food, as well as various storage locations for individual produce, canned foods, and other goods. Now... those shelves are far more empty. 

Arkansas Food Bank CEO, Rhonda Sanders said that what we're seeing now, is a direct result of the aftermath of the pandemic. The need for food and other goods continues to grow because of inflation.

"There's a lot of concern for what low income families have. Their SNAP dollars don't go as far in the grocery store, because of the costs. It costs more to go to work. It costs more to do everything. It costs more to live period," said Sanders. 

She said a lot of the relief that the food bank received during the pandemic has ended. The government had assisted those growing and producing food as well as those needing food.

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With more people going to the food bank for their every day nutritional needs, the demand is continually high, meanwhile the supply is still low. 

"Because COVID basically, in most of our minds is over, but our supply chain is another piece of it. It's still not over," said Sanders. 

CEO of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, Kathy Webb, outsources for the Arkansas Food Bank to help their supply.

She said one of the major issues that they're facing are deliveries taking longer than usual, because of supply chain disruptions. 

"We try to purchase food in tractor trailer loads that go directly to the food bank and the cost for that in some cases tripled the freight costs," said Webb.

According to Webb, what used to cost them $600 per freight just around three years ago, has now tripled in price. The alliance also buys cows for meat processing. She says, 30 cows a month typically brings in about 500 pounds of beef per cow, but Webb said even that, is being affected by inflation. 

"We're paying 20 cents a pound more per cow today than we paid in January," said Webb.

She was hopeful that with new legislation that law makers signed off on, more grocery stores would come to Arkansas. Especially in areas affected by food deserts but she understands inflation could affect how fully stocked the shelves will be.

With one quarter of the shelves still empty at the Arkansas Food Bank, Sanders said that they really need help. Monetary donations would drastically help move food transport and purchases. 

Arkansans can also help by choosing to host canned food drives, volunteering their time or by donating any goods to the food bank. 

"If we had $100 and that $100 last week would buy me five boxes of food, now this week that is only going to buy me four boxes of food," said Sanders.

For information on ways that you can give back to the Arkansas Food Bank, please click here

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