BUFFALO, N.Y. — Supply chain issues and the rising cost of food are just two issues food banks around the nation are dealing with. This comes as those non-profits are entering their busiest seasons of giving. So, what does it mean for larger food banks like FeedMore WNY and the hundreds of local pantries and soup kitchens across the region it serves? 

What You Need To Know

  • FeedMore WNY is down 180,000 pounds of food compared to this time last year

  • The non-profit is seeing a 5% rise in purchase costs

  • FeedMore WNY already saw a 36% increase in demand in 2020

At the State Tabernacle Church of God on Glenwood Avenue in Buffalo, lunch is being prepped thanks to volunteers with the Coldspring Community Foundation and Penny Beckham.

Ms. Penny, as she's called, explains this is not your ordinary soup kitchen. In fact, the folks who eat there for lunch on Tuesdays and breakfast on Saturdays were adamant they give it a name.

“They decided to call it The Plate of Love," Beckham said.

Love is certainly what they serve. But, like any relationship, there are struggles.

“I mean, there is not one thing that is not expensive now,” Beckham said.

Beckham says while prices are going up, in some cases the quantity is going down.

“Like before you used to get 32 rolls, now you get 34 rolls,” Beckham said.

It’s not just the price of food, gas prices are up, too, as well as the number of people she’s feeding. Beckham says in the two-hour timeframe they’re open, there are anywhere between 80 and 130 people who walk through the church’s door.

It’s people like Willie Earl. He’s a single father who walks in every time with a donation in hand.

“I don’t have a lot of money, but I give them a dollar or 50 cents, so they can keep these efforts," said Earl.

To feed folks like Willie and his son, the soup kitchen gets help from FeedMore WNY. Their volunteers are busy sorting what you donated for the annual Rock Out Hunger event. But despite the success of the event, they’re down donations.

“Compared to last year, we are actually down about 180,000 pounds of food,” said Catherine Shick, chief communications officer for FeedMore WNY.

Shick says there is no doubt rising prices at the grocery store have something to do with it.

According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, so far in 2021, compared to last year, food-at-home prices went up 2.5%. It could still go up to the projected 3.5% by the end of the year. While next year, the food-at-home prices are expected to increase another 1.5 to 2.5%.

So, what does this mean for FeedMore’s wallet? Shick says they’ve seen a 5% rise in purchase costs. That’s projected to only go up by 3-4% next year.

Fuel costs have gone up by 50%, as well, as they saw a 36% increase in demand in 2020. FeedMore WNY is looking to diversify funding opportunities. Shick adds the currently filled plates are thanks to the hard work of their agency services, vendors and you.

“We know these are trying times, but we do encourage the community to donate when they can,” Shick said. “No donation is too small.”

Ms. Penny can attest to that.

“Even as workers, if we need something, somebody will purchase it,” Beckham said. “Everybody feeds into this.”

When the pandemic started and FeedMore WNY saw a rise in need, economists projected that to rise for the next two to five years. Now, the projection shows a rise in need for up to seven years.