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Food banks need more help than usual this season

More than 44 million people lived in food-insecure households in 2022, according to the USDA.
A pallet of food awaits processing as volunteers work in the background to label cans of beans for redistribution May 7, 2020
Posted at 5:02 PM, Nov 28, 2023

Food banks are in need of donations this holiday season.

“A lot of food banks around the country are facing this dual issue of people aren't giving as much and the people going there are needing more,” said Jadrian Wooten, an associate professor of economics at Virginia Tech.

According to the USDA, 44.2 million people lived in food-insecure households in 2022.

A survey by Divert, Inc., a food waste reduction company, found only 25% of respondents said they are more likely to donate during this year’s holiday season compared to past years.

High inflation and grocery prices are also to blame, the survey found.

Organizations working to alleviate food insecurity and waste in US
A pot with onions, carrots and chicken bones

Organizations working to alleviate food insecurity and waste in US

According to Feeding America, 53 million people turned to food banks and other food programs in 2021.


Feeding America, a nonprofit nationwide network of food banks and food pantries, said in a press release that their network has been on the front lines of “responding to increased demand for food assistance this year, especially in the face of elevated food prices.”

“One of the big problems with food inflation over the past year, year and a half or so, has been just really different price changes for lots of different things, which makes it really hard for food banks to keep a stable shelf of products available for people,” Wooten said.

Feeding America said demand is still likely higher compared to pre-pandemic levels. 

The latest food bank pulse survey data from the nonprofit shows around 90% of responding food banks report seeing demand for food assistance increase or stay the same in October compared to September this year.

So what items do food banks need most?

According to Feeding America, proteins. This includes both meat and vegetarian, fresh or frozen. This also includes nuts and peanut butter.

Protein is followed by dairy foods and produce.

“If you have the means to help and donate to a food bank, the absolute best thing you can give is cash,” Wooten said. “They can buy more stuff with the same amount of dollars.”

Wooten also explained that food banks know exactly what they need, and can use cash to balance things out to give people a nice selection to choose from.

@scrippsnews Food banks across the nation are in need this holiday season. With grocery prices rising, a survey found only 1 in 4 respondents are more likely to donate this year compared to past years. #GivingTuesday #food ♬ original sound - Scripps News