‘We are in uncharted territory’: Waco food pantry feeding unprecedented number of families amid rising inflation

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 4:52 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Central Texas is not immune from from the effects of rising inflation across the country and, as a result, more people are turning to different resources for help, including local food pantries.

Shepherd’s Heart in Waco has piles of food everywhere, but Executive Director Robert Gager says the supply runs out quickly as the number of people asking for help is something they have never seen before.

“We just completed May and the numbers are over 32,000 families,” Gager said. “Through November of last year was 33,000 families. Last year, we grew by 15 percent. We thought that was pretty strong. This year we are doubling.”

Gager says when out delivering food, people say inflation is impacting nearly every aspect of their lives so they are turning to pantries like Shepherd’s Heart.

“They are telling me, ‘I’m not sure if I qualify, my husband and I both have jobs and we have kids, but we just don’t have enough to make ends meet.’”

Craig Gundersen, Baylor Economics Professor and Snee Family Endowed Chair at the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, says especially for low-income households, even small increases can have a huge impact on food insecurity because the dollar doesn’t stretch as far.

“Previously someone was able to get $100 of food, they would get a certain amount,” Gundersen said. “That same basket of goods now costs $115. They may not have that $115. They still have that $100 but they don’t have $115 so they are able to go to the food pantry and get that additional food.”

This helps explain why Shepherd’s Heart is seeing more clients.

“We are in uncharted territory,” Gager said. “We are not even halfway through the year but have almost done as much as we did last year.”

Gager does want to stress that they will always have food for their clients. If you are struggling for any reason, like inflation, do not hesitate to pick up food.

Shepard’s Heart has mobile locations for food pickup all across McLennan County.

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