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Food pantries navigate inflation, supply chain challenges

The network of volunteers keeps regular food pickup programs running smoothly.

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The rising cost of goods and global supply chain issues are trickling down to community food pantries.

Surging food prices across the country have created a growing need for assistance at neighborhood food shelves, but have also stretched available supplies thin.

Jim Welch, operations manager at the South Portland Food Cupboard in Maine, said they have run into challenges finding some common items, crediting the program's network of volunteers for keeping their regular food pickup programs running smoothly.

"The people who give here and help us out make it a whole lot easier," Welch said.

Further up the food assistance supply chain, the Good Shepherd Food Bank is also navigating pandemic-related challenges.

Dawn DiFiore, the food bank's director of community partnerships, said supply chain issues have been a constant struggle since the start of the pandemic nearly two years ago.

Getting regular shipments of goods has been a constant adjustment, with the food bank often lining up multiple potential suppliers to ensure they can keep their warehouse stocked.

With the cost of things like gas and groceries getting more expensive and the holidays fast approaching, DiFiore said some the squeeze on struggling families is getting tighter.

"People start to make these trade-offs. Am I going to buy heating fuel or am I going to get this bag of groceries?" DiFiore said.

Thanks to their network of suppliers, Good Shepherd is able to stretch money father than the average consumer. According to DiFiore, a $1 donation translates to three full meals provided by the food bank.