Local food pantries could see increase as food prices rise

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Retail food prices rose 0.4 percent last month

Local food pantries could see an increase in traffic as retail food prices continue to increase.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, retail food prices rose about 0.4 percent last month.

Prices are impacted by many factors, including drought conditions and global demand.          

If prices keep rising, one local shopper says she is going to have to look at other options to help put food on the table.

Soon-to-be mom Chelsey Wakeford spent her Friday afternoon shopping at a local food pantry.

“Money is getting short and I needed to buy food,” said Wakeford.

Wakeford normally does her shopping at a grocery store.

“If I can I will get it at work, like a discount there or I will go to Festival and find the better deals there,” said Wakeford.

But recently, her dollar hasn’t been able to stretch as far.

“A lot of prices have been going up quite a bit. Milk has gone up at least 50 cents since the last time I checked,” said Wakeford.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices have gone up 1.7 percent in the last 12 months.

“Big movement in items like meat, milk and eggs, overall food prices have been pretty stagnant the last couple years, but it’s in those protein areas where there is such strong demand that we are seeing upward pressure on the price,” said Casey Langan, of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

That is why many people, along with Wakefield, are turning to other options for help.

“We are seeing now an increase of families, about 120 families a month increase. That’s about 350 people,” said Susan Clements, operations manager of Wafer in La Crosse.

As the food prices continue to go up, so will the foot traffic.

“We will see an increase, there’s no doubt. When people can’t afford the meat to feed their families, we are going to see that increase,” said Clements.

By taking advantage of local food pantries, Wakeford is once again able to make her dollar go just a little further.

“Definitely getting a lot more than I usually would. I normally wouldn’t pay the prices for all this stuff,” said Wakeford.

By the end of this year, the USDA is projecting the cost of most food items will increase between 2 and 3.5 percent. The biggest increases are expected to be in beef and egg products. The smallest increases are expected to be in cereals and baked goods.