Inflation is causing more families to use food banks in the region – Cash Valley Daily

Susan Horn, volunteer with First Members Credit Union, loads meat into a cooler for a customer from the Box Elder Community Pantry on Wednesday, September 21, 2022.

Brigham City—Soaring prices for gas, food and rent drove US inflation to 9.1 percent in June, its highest level in 40 years, causing more consumers to tighten their price belts. Some make lifestyle changes just to stay afloat.

Box Elder Community Pantry Executive Director Joleen Groberg adheres to USDA guidelines.

Linda is a Brigham City resident, and she was willing to talk about her struggles caused by inflation.

Not only did Linda have to go to the Box Elder Community Pantry to get food, she also had to move in with her son’s family because the cost of everything had gone up so much. She lost three jobs and the new Corona virus made it impossible for her to live alone.

She is not the only one struggling. Other Utahns are facing the highest inflation in 40 years, making it difficult to afford the necessities of life.

I don’t want you to use my name, I’m so embarrassed because I have to move in with my kids for helpsaid the 72-year-old. “Since I was in high school, I’ve always worked out.”

Linda has two sons, both are married and have families, and now due to the economy and hardships, she is moving to live with her son and his family. The son’s family is going through a tough time, too.

“Things are tight.” Linda said. “I was working in 2020 at a job I had been doing for five years and then I got COVID and it took a little longer than I wanted to get back so they let me go.”

Despite being vaccinated twice, she contracted COVID again. After she contracted the virus for the third time, she was deemed a longtime traveler and quit to live on her Social Security.

Jolene Groberg, executive director of the Box Elder Community Pantry, points to the income guidance she gets from the USDA on Wednesday, September 21, 2022.

“It’s hard to live on Social Security on my own when groceries are up so much,” she said. “With car payments and gas prices, who can pay the rent?”

Linda said moving in with her son was the only thing she could do.

“The current economy is outrageous; food prices are out of control,” she said. “It’s hard to make money for food out of sight. The cost of everything is making me even more late.”

David, also from Brigham, was taking a food order from the Box Elder Community Food Pantry on Tuesday afternoon.

He lost his wife last December. He and his wife were disabled, and when she died, he lost half of his income.

He feels the same things as Linda.

“Gas and groceries are more expensive,” he said. “Without help from the pantry, I’m not sure I can make it.”

There’s more than these two people struggle with, said Colin Groberg, executive director of Box Elder Community Pantry. More middle-income families need help.

Despite the struggles of many, Groberg sees the generosity of the community as they bring in more canned goods.

We see a lot of people cleaning their cupboards and bringing their old canned goods to usShe said. “People are in need but if the food is old and your family doesn’t eat it, don’t bring it to us.”

Box Elder Community Pantry Executive Director Joleen Groberg displays a can of corn she gets from the USDA on Wednesday, September 21, 2022.

The pantry has USDA guidelines that they must follow.

“It is a fine line. We want donations and people are going through hard times,” Gruberg said. “But some of the food that is donated is outdated and we have guidelines that say we can’t use outdated canned food.”

The Food Pantry recognizes that there is a need, and now more families are coming to look for help.

“I hope they raise the income standards,” Gruberg said. “It’s hard to tell people to say no when they don’t qualify for help because they make too much or too little money.”

She wants to help as many families as possible.

“The numbers look good, but someone can make more than $2,000,” Gruberg said. “But if you pay, rent, use, car, food, or gas, it’s all done very quickly.”

She received new income guidelines in July and it’s still crazy not being able to help more people.

Matt Whitaker, an official with the Cache Community Food Pantry, echoed his Box County Elder counterpart’s concern about the middle class.

“When you have to spend more money on milk, eggs, groceries and other lodging, you have to choose between lodging and eating,” he said. “We’re seeing more middle-class families than we’ve seen in the past.”

Susan Horn, a volunteer with First Members Credit Union, loads a shopping cart for a customer from the Box Elder Community Pantry on Wednesday, September 21, 2022.

Store focus has been at least fortunate, but middle class wages haven’t improved much lately and some are really struggling.

“The middle class could, until recently, save $200 at the end of the month,” Whitaker said. “Now the middle class is $200 in the hole every month because middle class salaries haven’t gone up.”

The pantry was serving about 600 families per month, and with current inflation figures they are seeing up to 800 families per month.

“We’ve seen new families and old people who didn’t use us before and didn’t know we existed,” Whitaker said. “Some are about to happen,” he said, “both parents are working and either under-qualified or over-qualified.” “It’s not much different from a lot of us, we’re all struggling.”

The store is also seeing an increase in the number of fixed-income retirees looking for comfort. Some earn less than $1,000 a month and have to move in with the family.

“Because a lot of older adults never needed help before they faced a new reality,” Whitaker said. “Weird what is happening. I realize there is a need and there is a problem.”

Between rising rental costs and steady inflation, more and more people are worried about losing their homes, said Emily Lamb of Lending Tree.

“We found that 35 percent of people in Utah who are rent arrears are worried about being evicted,” she said. “We have a detailed report on foreclosure and eviction concerns, how many people are behind on payments and why women and people of color are more likely to lose their homes.”

Utah Key Results:

  • 14% of people are late in paying their rent
  • 1% of people are behind on their mortgage payments
  • 7% of people who are behind on their mortgage payments face foreclosure
  • People of color are two to three times more likely to face eviction or foreclosure
Susan Horne, a volunteer member of Senior Credit Union, helps David Burris with groceries he received from the Box Elder Community Pantry on Wednesday, September 21, 2022.

The Joint Economic Commission Social Capital Project examined the state of social capital in America today. The Social Capital Project advises Congress on policies to increase social capital by reconnecting Americans to work, improving investment in youth, making family education more affordable, increasing family stability, and rebuilding civil society.

That committee concluded that Utah families are experiencing a rise in monthly inflation that is costing them as much as $910 in July. Even if prices stop increasing entirely, inflation will cost households in the beehive state up to $10,917 over the next year.

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