Food banks struggle to meet holiday demands with rising prices

KENT, Wash. - People in need are facing a hunger cliff this Thanksgiving.

Inflation is driving up food prices, and food stamp benefits have been slashed as pandemic funding ran out. Food banks might not have enough to give this holiday season either.

Since 2019, prices for a traditional turkey dinner have gone up 25%. Union Gospel Mission (UGM) is one of the biggest local organizations for charitable giving, and even they're struggling to keep up this season.

Thanksgiving is just three days away, and UGM tells us they've already given out 1,000 turkeys, and they're going to need 1,000 more just to meet the demand.

Other local food banks are asking for help, too.

"Hams are really expensive this year," said Debbie Christian, executive director for Auburn Food Bank. "So, for a ten-pound ham, we're spending $30 on a ham. But you need to make sure that the family [at least has] the meat."

Christian told FOX 13 the price of food is making it incredibly difficult to provide meals for everyone in need this year.

"I got butter on sale the other day for $3 a pound," Christian said. "That was $0.99, so something that small and there's your increase in price. So for us to make those purchases, make sure that Thanksgiving and Christmas, having enough food for all them—we're observing those prices."

Christian told FOX 13 they're trying to supply 700 meals for families this Thanksgiving, but they might not be able to afford all the fix-ins like they used to.

"I don't have enough in the produce part, I don't have enough dessert, I don't have enough bread," Christian said.

Seattle's UGM is also fighting to keep up with demand.

"Families, especially," said Brian Chandler, Seattle UGM director of external affairs. "Women and children in that capacity. We see people living in their cars and in RVs, and being able to meet that expanding need has been tougher and tougher with the economy, as well."

At the food bank, Christian said the daily need this year has spiked from last year. In 2022, they were feeding about 80 people per day. That number is now 120, and some days it's even more.

"Economy tanks, prices go up considerably, and now all of us are hurting and it's not just that low-income family that's hurting, it's not middle-class," Christian said. "Everybody is hurting with the prices."

The average price for a traditional turkey dinner is more than $60, and that's the bare minimum.

Organizations like UGM are asking for help this Thanksgiving. If you don't have money to donate, call your nearest food bank and see how you can donate time. A lot of places need help packing and distributing food, so you can give back that way.