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Rising food costs, supply chain issues create headaches for Kansas Food Bank

Daniel Caudill
The Kansas Food Bank supports meals programs in 85 counties.

The cost of buying food is going up and some items are difficult to find.

As the COVID-19 pandemic approaches its second anniversary, the Kansas Food Bank continues to see increased need.

Brian Walker, president and CEO of the food bank, said the nonprofit is also purchasing more of its own goods because food manufacturers are unable to donate as much product as in previous years.

“That creates a problem because dollars only go so far, and you only have so many dollars to do that with,” he said.

And as it makes those additional purchases, the food bank is facing some of the same challenges that consumers have become familiar with in recent months: rising costs due to inflation and difficulty finding certain items due to issues with the supply chain.

“We’re still able to get food,” Walker said. “It may not be exactly what we want. It may be different than what we’re used to having.”

Commonly donated and utilized items like peanut butter, canned meats and canned fruit are hard to come by, Walker said. He said those are items that the community should emphasize when donating.

Fortunately, Walker said, the organization saw an increase in local donations through November and December. But he fears that trend may fall off with the new year.

“Hunger is 365 days a year,” Walker said. “Everybody thinks about hunger at Thanksgiving and Christmas time. But the reality is, that hunger is still with us come Jan. 1.”

Feeding America reports one in eight people in Kansas face hunger, including one in six children. In total, that’s about 351,090 Kansans – 120,090 of them children.

The Kansas Food Bank headquarters is located near downtown Wichita, but the organization supports 85 counties in the state. That support extends to about 700 partner programs, including other food pantries, soup kitchens and school meal programs.

The organization’s Food 4 Kids program provides weekend meals for nearly 4,000 kids in the state who do not have adequate food at home.

In addition to donations, the food bank also needs volunteers as it prepares for 2022. People interested in volunteering can visit www.kansasfoodbank.org/volunteer.

Daniel Caudill reports on Kansas state government for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service. He was a general assignment reporter for KMUW and a reporter, photographer and digital content manager for The Derby Informer and an editor and reporter for The Sunflower. In the spring of 2020, Daniel helped cover the legislative session in Topeka as an intern for the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @CaudillKMUW.