Inflation brings California food banks a surge in first-time users on ‘razor’s edge’

Food banks across the state are seeing an influx of new faces as spikes in the cost of groceries and gas have some Californians seeking help for the first time. The numbers of those receiving services dipped at the start of the year as the spread of the COVID-19 virus waned, but are now rising in the face of the highest inflation in 41 years.

More than a dozen people stood in the rain last week before the gates at the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services distribution center had even opened. Parked cars wrapped around the block.

“Our walkup line is growing. We’re hearing from people that they don’t want to waste their gas sitting in the drive-through line while waiting for their boxes,” said spokesperson Kevin Buffalino. “People are on that razor’s edge right now, and the cost of gas is eating into their food budgets.”

Food banks across the state are seeing an influx of new faces as spikes in the cost of groceries and gas have some Californians seeking help for the first time. The numbers of those receiving services dipped at the start of the year as the spread of the COVID-19 virus waned, but are now rising in the face of the highest inflation in 41 years.

The issue is two-fold, as food bank administrators are grappling with their own higher costs for food and the gas it takes to transport it to local pantries. In December, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services paid a wholesale price of 93 cents per dozen for eggs. Last week, they paid $2.20 per dozen.

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