Carmen Rivera hunts for a bargain at the grocery store. When she saw a loaf of bread for $2.68, she grabbed two and froze one to use for later. But when she went back to get more days later, the price jumped to $3.29.

Rivera’s experience is reflective of a national trend: Food is getting more expensive. Food prices at home jumped 10.8% in April compared to the same time last year  — the largest jump since November 1980, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Rivera, who works as a cafeteria manager at a Fort Worth ISD school and is a single mother of three, said inflation has made grocery shopping more challenging.

“Because the food prices are going up it’s even hard to provide certain nutritious meals,” she said. 

To adapt, Rivera had to make changes to her spending habits. She started stockpiling food. The three times a week visits to restaurants changed to once a week. 

Rivera isn’t the only one feeling the effects of inflation. As the price of living rises from inflation, food bank lines are extending. Organizations that feed the hungry are spending more on food and struggle to find volunteers and donations.   

Hundreds of people waited in their cars to receive food from a weekly food drive at Herman Clark Stadium on 5201 Ca Roberson Blvd. on May 25. Tarrant Area Food Bank staff estimated that two cars entered the line every 10 minutes to wait for food.

Hundreds of cars wait in line at Tarrant Area Food Bank’s mobile food distribution center on May 25 at Herman Clark Stadium. The organization distributed food to over 1,000 families, Nate Starmer, a food bank worker, said. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

Kari Franklin, an Arlington resident, found herself in line when the start date for her new job got pushed. The price increases are scary, she said. 

“I’m the type of person that likes to donate to the food bank, and it’s been really hard to have to ask for help,” Franklin said. 

Where to find food at food banks and pantries and how to help

Tarrant Area Food bank distributes food to local nonprofits and pantries across Tarrant County and North Texas. To find locations, click here. 

Tarrant Area Food Bank hosts a weekly food distribution event 6-8 p.m. every Wednesday at Herman Clark Stadium, 5201 Ca Roberson Blvd. 

Tarrant County Area Food Bank is looking for volunteers. Click here for more information. 

Funky Town Fridge has three community fridges and is taking donations. To find more information, click here

The food bank saw a huge influx of people in food lines at the beginning of the pandemic but the demand lowered over time, Julie Butner, president and CEO of the Tarrant Area Food Bank, said. Now as the price for everything goes up, Butner said the lines have been filling back up. 

Operating costs have also gone up. All employees received a 4% wage increase, drivers are spending more on gas as they deliver food and the organization spent an extra $2 million outside designated grant funds over the past three months to get enough food to meet the demand, Butner said. 

The $2 million is a small amount compared to the $135 million they receive and spend a year, but she said they’ve never had to do that before.

“It’s kind of a double whammy right now,” Butner said. “We’re dealing with more people needing help, which we thought we had turned the corner on that post-pandemic and we haven’t, and the cost is going up.”

Food donations from retailers, distributors and manufacturers are also down because of supply chain issues, Butner said. They are also short on volunteers. At a recent event at Herman Clark, the volunteers were working until 10:30 p.m. 

Other organizations that provide food to people are facing similar challenges. 

Kendra Richardson, the founder of Funky Town Fridge, said it costs more to fill fridges across the organization’s three locations. 

In 2020, it took $600 to fill the fridges. Now, it costs $800, Richardson said. Donations are down. She said they’ve received messages on the organization’s Instagram from people who have donated in the past saying they can’t fit donations into their grocery budget. 

“I know a lot of people are losing jobs and losing money,” Richardson said. “So that in turn is either stopping them from donating monetarily or they don’t have the money to add into their budget to get food for the fridge and take it there.”

Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at seth.bodine@fortworthreport.org and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.

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Seth Bodine

Seth Bodine is the business reporter for the Fort Worth Report. He previously covered agriculture and rural issues in Oklahoma for the public radio station, KOSU, as a Report for America corps member....