Supply chain issues making an impact on food banks

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 10:52 PM MST
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SEATTLE (CNN) - Global supply chain issues are now impacting food banks.

Northwest Harvest in Seattle says it is being affected in two big ways.

“We’re seeing increased need at our doors. We’re also seeing it impact us in terms of the cost of food that we are purchasing to distribute as well,” Christina Wong, a Northwest Harvest associate, said.

Right now, the cost of nearly everything has gone up, which means families on a tight budget can purchase less.

With more people are showing up at places like the Sodo Community Market, for the food bank, that means more mouths to feed, creating an increase in demand.

Compounding the problem, Northwest Harvest has less purchasing power with its dollars also being stretched thin. The food bank relies on donations, but their monetary donations go toward buying things.

“It’s been a crunch on everyone,” Gary Newte with Northwest Harvest said.

Supply chain issues have increased the price of food as well as household items, like baby wipes.

It is also affecting the cost of trucking and getting the items to every state.

“Transportation itself has added 25-30% just in transportation to the normal cost of sourcing a procuring food,” Newte said. “What has traditionally taken 7-10 business days on a purchase, has at times taken 8-10 weeks.”

Fewer volunteers have also been available during the pandemic, which means less help to package bulk items.

That in turn has forced Northwest Harvest to purchase more prepackaged items that tend to be more expensive.

Donations have also been harder to come by.

“Has that impacted who usually donates? Yes, absolutely. There are many grower producers that are at times not able to meet the demands of their retail vendors or their retail partners ... so that trickles down to us and our opportunities,” Newte said.

That’s why food banks need help this year more than ever.

“I don’t see it as much different than last holiday season. I imagine that we may go through potentially another holiday season with the need before there’s real ... a real visible recovery,” Newte said.

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