Supply chain issues are straining hunger relief organizations in Tampa Bay


Supply chain issues aren’t only driving up grocery store prices, they are also straining Tampa Bay area food banks as they strive to feed those in need.

It’s not just grocery shopping that is getting more expensive. Gasoline and rent also cost more, and that leads to more people in need. Organizations that help get people through have a harder time getting donations and stocking their shelves.

“It definitely affects those we serve who live on a fixed income,” said Justine Burke, vice president of marketing at Metropolitan Ministries.

Labor shortages and supply chain issues have led to a 4.6% increase in food prices from a year ago. Meat, poultry, fish, pork and eggs are all up over 10%. Beef prices have increased by more than 17%.

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This holiday season, Metropolitan Ministries expects to serve up to 33,000 families at risk and in difficulty. They have to order food much earlier.

And the items they would normally buy in bulk, “We’re finding that that might not be possible this year,” Burke said. “The grocery stores are also worried and they are trying to keep their stores full for their customers, which is certainly understandable.”

Metro Ministries also struggles to find basic items like stuffing Thanksgiving boxes.

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“We buy, you know, canned potatoes just to have some more in case we can’t have any stuffing,” Burke said.

At Feeding Tampa Bay, “We have about 35% more people in our world today than before the pandemic,” said Thomas Mantz, President and CEO of Feeding Tampa Bay.

They find it difficult to stock up on protein, fresh fruits and vegetables. Companies that normally give excess food have their own supply problems.

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“We buy more food than we have ever had in the history of our existence,” Mantz said. “I mentioned that we really do work with food donations, but to fill some gaps we have been buying food for a few years.”

Higher food prices will likely result in more people seeking help. These organizations hope the community will help them bridge the gap.

“It’s definitely a new challenge we’re facing, but we’re working, we’ve been working, to make sure we’re meeting the needs of the families who rely on us,” said Burke.

Whether you need help or want to offer help, here’s how you can connect with these food aid organizations:

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