We’ve all been riding a roller coaster of daily challenges for the last three years and that includes the necessity that is food.
In the early days of the pandemic, hoarding and panic buying made it difficult for people—often regardless of resources—to get the necessary food items they needed. Job layoffs and illness meant that household budgets were strained at least temporarily. It took time and special efforts to distribute food and meals in new and safe ways. For a time, many of those issues were addressed with pandemic-related programs and additional funding for those receiving food assistance. Many local organizations stepped up to help during this critical time too.
Today the pandemic is playing less of a role in our daily lives and the job market is strong but we’re facing food insecurity issues once again, this time due to inflation and supply chain issues.
Michigan’s 2022 Food Security Council report notes that federal poverty guideline calculations—what’s used to determine who qualifies for food assistance programs—haven’t been updated since they were created in the 1960s and thereby don’t account for an “exponential” increase in the cost of necessities, citing the 800 percent rise of housing prices in the last six decades. The report also notes that November 2021 saw the largest single-year increase in the consumer price index since 1982. Because of those factors, it’s possible that the nutritional needs of families could become even more acute in the weeks and months to come.
Charity, often in the form of church-based food distribution programs, help bridge the gap for those who don’t qualify for assistance but could use a helping hand in filling their pantry shelves.
Food giveaways, like the one recently hosted by West Berlin United Methodist Church, are addressing new needs but still have the same significance—helping households get enough food to lead a healthy lifestyle.
It’s possible that other programs, like those free summer feeding programs made possible through school districts, will play a bigger role in helping families this year. Free breakfast and lunch options are served to all youth regardless of enrollment or income.
We’re grateful for all those who work toward addressing food insecurity whether it’s part of their job or something they do as a volunteer. The Tri-City area is fortunate to have a number of established food pantries, free meal programs and a community that supports them. Needs and circumstances may change but they are prepared to help.