Shelves at the Tarrant Area Food Bank that were full of food just weeks ago are empty now – a sign the economy is also squeezing organizations trying to help the most in need.
"My fuel costs have gone up double what we budgeted,” TAFB president Julie Butner said. “I'm buying food at higher rates than I ever have."
The food bank budgeted $1.4 million to buy food so far this year. It’s now spent more than $4.5 million in "rainy day" funds.
The food bank usually counts on donations from hundreds of grocery stores and suppliers, but those donations are down 25%, Butner said.
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"There's kind of a perfect storm because as the government said, 'we no longer need to fund food banks because people are going back to work and things are getting better,' we quit receiving those federal grants that helped us buy food,” she said.
Wednesday night, in a parking lot outside a southeast Fort Worth activity center, hundreds of people lined up for food.
"We're struggling. We're struggling to make it,” one woman said.
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The Tarrant Area Food Bank is seeing more need now than at the height of the pandemic.
Inflation, squeezing people's already tight budgets.
“It's stretching it beyond belief. You just barely make it,” said Brandy Wallert who lives with a family of seven.
She was in line getting free food for the first time.
"I don't feel bad about it because we need help,” she said.
Butner said the food bank will continue doing everything it can to help those who need it the most.
People who would like to donate or volunteer can get more information on the organization's webpage.