As multiple factors influence the food supply, buyers try to make ends meet

Raleigh County, West Virginia (WVNS) – In June of 2022, annual inflation was 9.1 percent, but prices across the board continued to rise beyond that point.

Grocery is a prime example. According to a recent study by Iowa State University, experts report that the cost of food is rising faster than inflation. The cost of food has risen 12.2 percent since 2021, the highest since 1979. And every month, food prices are rising at an average rate of one percent.

“I think, sometimes, they take advantage of the situation,” Emma Moore said. “Because everyone is raising everything. Gas prices are going up. And then all food prices are going up.”

Local seniors tell us the different ways they try to keep up with the cost.

“Not necessarily at the grocery store, but in other places, I make sure they know I’m a veteran because they’ll give you a discount,” said Larry Cummings, an American veteran. “Without discounts, you’re in trouble. I’m a big believer in coupons, but that’s the way we live.”

A worker at a local grocery store said many local seniors are unable to access digital coupons from their mobile apps.

Cummings said he cut paper coupons from local newspapers and sales ads.

“I use paper,” he said. “I don’t get anything from the phone. I haven’t figured out how to use that rat’s maze yet.”

Seniors visit the Raleigh County Commission on Aging in Beckley and similar agencies for lunch and weekday activities.

Others visit local food banks such as Mountaineer Food Bank, local food bank organizer Ron Hedrick said.

Hedrick brings truckloads of food to southwest Virginia each month through the services of a food bank for veterans and others. There is a growing need for food, he said, at Mount Hope and elsewhere.

“In probably the last four to six months, we’ve seen an increase in the need for food gifts,” Hedrick said. “Of course, our food giveaways that we started two months ago in Mount Hope saw a 20 percent increase from the first time to the second time.”

Hedrick says the federal government is providing less food as need increases.

“When things go bad in the grocery store, they also get bad in government,” he said. “It’s getting more and more difficult to get a lot of the food donated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).”

Last month, he said, the agency could provide food to 700 veterans but limited it to serving 600, because the USDA can only provide 600 servings.

Hedrick said the USDA is also giving up canned meat in place of fresh meat and that fresh vegetables are no longer available through the USDA.

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