High inflation steady, demand at food shelves are up with donations down

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As inflation and high prices continue to grapple with Minnesota families, demand at food shelves is up with donations fill the need down.

At the beginning of the pandemic, The Open Door started their free Pop-Up Pantry Food Drive Thru held at the former Metcalf Middle School, in Burnsville — expecting it to be a temporary effort to help those in need, the pop-up events still happen every Tuesday.

“When we think about our weekly distribution at Metcalf, it’s really turned into a barometer for community need,” Jason Viana, executive director for The Open Door, said, adding: “Throughout the last year, it’s really ebbed and flowed.”

Following a dip earlier this summer, demand is back up — more than 7,500 people came through their Tuesday drives in August.

“Since inflation has set in, we’ve seen things go right back to where they were, which tells us clearly [that] people are really teetering on the edge of needing help and not — and it doesn’t take much to push them towards us,” Viana said.

While dropping since its peak, Tuesday’s inflation report shows prices are still high — up 8.3% from a year ago. In August, there was a record increase in grocery prices — increasing more than 14% from last year.

RELATED: US inflation still stubbornly high despite August slowdown

“The theme to the story has been inflation,” Viana added. “Inflation hits our donors too — so as inflation has gone up, we have seen donations decrease.”

St. Paul based Hunger Solutions tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS their donations have decreased 25% from last year. Adding, attracting new donors has been a challenge because of “how expensive cost of living is.”

While food donations are welcome, these organtions can stretch a dollar much further: