Food insecurity on the rise in Utah and beyond alongside food price inflation
OGDEN — For months, food pantries across the state and nationwide have been experiencing mass shortages, and due to rising inflation those looking to use such resources are not exclusively from low income levels.
According to a Health Reform Monitoring Survey published by the Urban Institute in June, high food price inflation coupled with elevated costs for basic needs such as housing and transportation is believed to have eroded people’s food budgets in the last year.
The survey, which aimed to assess food insecurity among households with non-elderly adults, found that food insecurity “significantly” increased from 15.3% in spring 2021 to 21.4% this summer.
Randy Chappell, basic needs director with Catholic Community Services, said that while their Ogden food pantry is not currently experiencing any shortages, they have taken steps to preserve resources in order to serve all in need of services.
As of Nov. 1, trips to the CCS food pantry have been restricted to once a month per client; however, they may also receive an additional holiday food box for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Waiting in the cold Tuesday morning for their monthly trip through the pantry, local residents relayed their struggles to keep food on the table.
CCS client David Gardner said things are tight at home — and not much better at the pantry, with grocery items such as milk and eggs deemed luxury items.
With the aftermath of COVID-19 affecting food supply chains, Chappell said CCS can only give out the food they have available.
Mixing powdered milk with fresh milk when available is a common practice to stretch the scarce commodity, according to one woman who asked to remain anonymous. “You have to extend it as far as you can,” she said.
Without the help of CCS, Gardner and others said they would be eating a lot more basic foodstuffs like rice and oatmeal.
Those who want to visit the pantry must provide proof that they fall within the 2022 income guidelines. Individuals or households must self-declare when they fall below 185% of the federal income level to qualify.
The qualifying monthly income level varies by the number of people in a household. A two-person household can make no more than $2,823, while a six-person household can make no more than $5,734 monthly.
Qualifying monthly incomes do not account for monthly living expenses such as rent.
According to Zumper, a privately held rental platform analyzing active housing inventory to find trends in rent prices across the country, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Ogden, as of Nov. 12, is $1,025.
While there are many determining factors in rent costs such as the number of bedrooms, amenities and neighborhoods, Zumper reported a 14% increase in rent prices in 2022 compared to the previous year.
Inflation and Russia’s war in Ukraine are among factors said to be driving current high food prices and instability. According to the World Bank‘s latest update on food security published Nov. 14, domestic food price inflation remains high around the world.
High food prices have reportedly triggered a global crisis driving millions into extreme poverty, magnifying hunger and malnutrition, the World Bank reported.
With attempts to reduce global poverty already having been slowed because of the pandemic, further recovery has now been halted by rising food and energy prices fueled by climate shocks and conflict, according to the World Bank report.
In a report published Sept. 21, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Food Programme warned that acute food insecurity is likely to deteriorate further, with 222 million people in 53 countries and territories in need of urgent assistance.