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Food banks facing challenges amid rising costs

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The spiking prices of food and gas are hitting local food banks and pantries hard.

The Food Bank of Central New York is seeing an increase in need as family budgets get tighter and the school year wraps up, leaving many children without free or reduced cost breakfast and lunch.

Food Bank Chief Development Officer Lynn Hy said she is seeing a lot of people who are struggling.

"It's many families with children. Unfortunately, it's a lot of senior citizens we're seeing,” said Hy. “They were making ends meet before, and right now, just with the increased cost of everything, they're not able to do so."

Hy said the food bank is distributing about 1.5 million pounds of food every month. Of that, about 650,000 pounds of food are being purchased, and those purchase costs have gone up about 10 percent.

The food bank also has a fleet of vehicles that drive in total about 350,000 miles every year. They’re used for missions like taking food to partner programs and food pantries, operating as mobile food pantry trucks, and picking up food that would otherwise be wasted from retailers. But the increase in gas prices has been staggering.

"If we look at just the month of May, and we compare May of ‘21 to May of 2022, we saw a 107 percent increase in our fuel cost just for that one month,” said Hy.

Despite the challenge of rising costs, Hy said because of tremendous support from the community, the food bank will continue to be able to help those in need. However, she said more volunteers, monetary donations, and food drives are always appreciated and helpful.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.