National Hunger Awareness Month is in progress and rising area grocery costs are adding to concerns about people losing access to enough food. An area organization hopes the conversation doesn’t lose sight of the need to tackle “nutrition insecurity” as well.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has predicted that grocery prices for foods prepared at home would increase between 7% and 8% this year. Emmaly Renshaw, executive director of Feed Iowa First, said that puts more pressure on families who make too much to qualify for SNAP benefits, but also can’t easily afford healthy food. Despite their best efforts, Renshaw said, local pantries can’t always provide things such as fresh produce.
While the most urgent goal is getting food to struggling households, Renshaw said nutritious items enhance the overall effort. Her group grows fresh produce for nine food pantries in the Cedar Rapids area. They also deliver boxes of food to health clinics and apartment complexes in marginalized neighborhoods.
Renshaw said that direct form of outreach also reduces the transportation burden for those who can’t travel to a food shelf or supermarket. She said closing hunger gaps should involve more than sustaining a person’s life.
It is feared that as grocery prices and other essentials rise, hunger rates will too.