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Two parents with their two young children in a refrigeration section at a grocery storeAt the beginning of the summer, ground beef prices were up 36% from the same time in 2021. Eggs were up 33%. Men’s clothing up 25%. Household cleaning products, 11%. Rent, nearly 6%.

As inflation rose and prices skyrocketed, family budgets across South Jersey were impacted and more people were seeking food assistance for the first time.

Neighbors who have never needed our help before were suddenly having to decide: put food on the table or pay the electric bill. Buy enough groceries for the week or put gas in the car. And as kids go back to school, how do you pay for school supplies? Uniforms? Sports equipment? How can you go without paper towels or milk for cereal?
These types of no-win decisions go on and on.


An older Black woman food shopping in the produce section of a grocery store. She is wearing a light yellow top, blue scarf, and a oatmeal-colored cardigan. She is pushing a grocery cart that already has some vegetables in it.Skyrocketing prices made day-to-day necessities increasingly untenable for South Jerseyans – but especially our most vulnerable populations. For many families, it’s impossible to get by without support.

Though we all feel the strain, inflation impacts our food-insecure neighbors most of all. For low-income households, which spend a far greater share of their budgets on food, any price increases can have a dramatic effect on their overall stability and security.

When difficult times hit, food – not to mention nutritious food – is often the first thing people forego to make ends meet. But medicine should never come at the expense of food. Or childcare. Electricity.

The Food Bank of South Jersey had the opportunity to talk to some of our neighbors about what they’ve been facing
during the highs and lows of our economy’s strife. They told us:

  • “ Insurance in general, but especially healthcare, is too expensive. I can’t afford my insulin and to buy groceries.”
  • “ If you do find transportation to get to the store – which is miles away – there is only so much you can carry home with you.”
  • “ Everyday bills get in the way. If it wasn’t for the pantry, I wouldn’t be eating.”
  • “By the end of the month, there is nothing left.”
  • “We’re looking for a blessing.”


Inflation strikes blows to us all. The Food Bank of South Jersey is not immune to the difficulties
that plague our current landscape. Our freight costs have doubled, as have gas prices to fill up our delivery vehicles, and supply chain issues are disrupting the food we can obtain and distribute. Federal programs have less food to provide, individual food donations wane, and monetary gifts don’t stretch as far.

Food banks like ours, which started to see some relief after pandemic shutdowns, are again working at capacity to meet the needs of our communities. We’re currently seeing numbers at our distributions that rival that of the height of the pandemic.

But none of this will stop us from serving our neighbors and working to be a blessing.

Each month, almost 1.5 million pounds of goods head out from our 45,000-square foot warehouse. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our team, we’re able to acquire and distribute household items so that families don’t have to choose between purchasing food and necessary toiletries. Our pantry partners are able to offer paper products and cleaning supplies to their communities in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Salem counties.

This summer, we were able to provide 25% more fresh produce to our pantries than last year, utilizing our expanded refrigeration space. We also offered more than 100,000 meals to our region’s young people through our Summer
Meals program, taking some of the burden off of worried parents.

We learned a lot from the pandemic, but perhaps the number one lesson is that we are all in this together. Thank you for your support, whether it is in your time, money, or food donations. There are always ways we can help our neighbors in need.



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