Food Independence: HERE WE GROW AGAIN!

Last Spring, demand for food assistance soared at Food Independence, as expected. Covid-era supplements for SNAP and other income/need related programs were ending. Food programs nationwide braced for an increase in demand. It happened. We saw large increases in numbers last Spring into summer then things levelled off. Holiday season demand was similar to the previous year.

We, briefly, thought we had handled the post-Covid rush and learned how to handle our “new normal” monthly demand.  Then came this February, a slow month in the “old days”, when Tom and Anita go away. Volunteers packed 360 boxes, as Tom suggested (oops), but gave out 387. The February team handled it wonderfully but urged us to pack more for March. We prepared 400 boxes but distributed 424 on March 26 to 379 households with 823 residents. That is the second biggest number ever, with last April being 441 boxes. Both exceeded holiday demand, usually our biggest months, we thought.

What Happened? It’s one of those “perfect storm” things where Covid-era supplements ended at about the peak of post-Covid inflation, as the economy geared back up. Food, energy, housing and medical expenses increased by about 20%. Income increased for some but decreases in Covid supplements were greater for most food insecure families. Inflation is down and the economy is improving but prices remain high, especially for food. The number of testimonials we hear during distribution about how critical that monthly food box has been to many families during this time is amazing and heart rending.

Meeting this demand is challenging and stretches our capacity but it is also our mission. We met the challenge and always have food to meet demand on distribution day. We’re not sure how far we can go, given facility and infrastructure limits, but we “ain’t there yet”! We will have 425 boxes ready this month but are prepared to go to, or beyond, 450. Our amazing volunteers, donors and supporters remain the primary reason we can handle this growth. They are the key to our future, and it is a bright one! 

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