The Salina Emergency Aid Food Bank has seen a dramatic increase in demand for its services this year, with the number of people it serves rising by more than double compared to 2021.
The Food Bank's director, Karen Couch, said, "2022 has blown away every single record in our books. From individuals served, to seniors, to children, to the quantity of food, every kind of statistic that there is, we have blown out of the water. It might be a little bit premature, but if the rest of November and December are sustained, the usage difference is monumental."
The Food Bank provides food and other necessities to those in need, and with inflation putting a dent in everyone's pocketbook, its services have become more critical than ever. However, the increase in demand and inflation have put a strain on the Food Bank's resources.
"The donations are down, and the demand is up. We are three times over our grocery budget because of us trying to fill that gap."
The challenges facing the Salina Emergency Aid Food Bank are not unique. Food bank managers across the country are sounding the alarms about rising hunger.
According to a report by USA Today, Feeding America, the largest charity operating a network of food banks in the U.S., more than 40% of food banks are running a budget deficit.
The challenges haven't been limited to supplies and donations. The Food Bank's small staff is working long hours to keep up with the demand, and at times they struggle to keep up. "Our volunteers had been doing 25 orders in an hour and 40 minutes. Now we're asking them to do 60 orders in an hour and 40 minutes."
In response to the supply and demand challenges, The Salina Aid Emergency Food Bank's board of directors is planning to roll out changes in January that limit the number of times clients can receive some services.
"It's not a limit to our food programs or financial assistance, but it will limit how often those can be accessed. It puts a bit more onus on the client to plan for the usage of the services.", said Couch.
To see the list of needs at the Salina Emergency Aid Food Bank, visit salinafood.org. "The community can help with everything: time, talent, and treasure."