ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The rising cost of food is resulting in more people seeking help from food pantries. That rings true locally, as well.
While it’s not to the point of impacting what’s on the menu at lunch quite yet, between local food pantries and schools, the need for access to quality food is evident.
“We are in the 14608 zip code which is one of, if not the poorest zip code in the City of Rochester and it is the top poorest zip code for children in Rochester so we are right where we need to be,” said Carmen Allen, President and Executive Director of the non-profit, Beyond the Sanctuary.
Families already struggling to make ends meet are now facing additional challenges as the cost of food continues to rise.
“We have a hotline and I could not keep up with the calls that we’ve gotten over the last couple of days — and most of them were for food. I was expecting there to be more for rental assistance but for the first time I’ve gotten more calls for food than for rental assistance,” Allen said.
According to an April report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the food-at-home index rose 10.8% over the past 12 months. That is the largest 12-month increase since November 1980.
“When you look at the essential items that are needed right now — eggs for example — we used to be able to get 30 dozen eggs from FoodLink for about $30 — $40 bucks and now that’s over $70 so it has increased a lot,” Allen explained.
“Now, nothing against FoodLink because if it weren’t for them we would not be able to provide the food that we do but the fact of the matter is it’s not as available as it was before and when it is available, it is costing more,” she added.
In the Greece Central School District, students and families alike are able to access a food pantry established right within the middle school. The demand for basic items is also seen here.
“Every month we have more and more families coming, families that come regularly, families that come to our pantry and then go to other pantries — either their food stamps aren’t cutting it, or they’ve just lost a job or that their pay just doesn’t give them enough money to feed their whole families,” said Kelly Sperduto, Community Schools and Family Engagement Coordinator for Greece Central School District.
Food pantry staff at the school are already making arrangements to meet an anticipated increased need for families during the summer months, including delivery options for those without access to transportation.
Beyond the Sanctuary is currently seeking volunteers to help expand its meal delivery service to help those unable to physically attend a pantry pick-up day.