2021 has been a difficult year on many fronts for both businesses and families, and we have faced those same challenges here at your Food Bank. We have seen disruptions in the supply chain due to low inventory and increased demand has forced higher food prices. To make matters worse, the rising cost of fuel forces the working poor to spend more money on commuting between work and home instead of being able to feed their families.

Rising fuel costs also affect the cost of operations for the Food Bank in purchasing fuel to transport food from vendors to our facility and then to distributions out to our member agencies. While we are forever grateful for the abundance of food drives that are organized by local organizations, businesses, churches, and agencies, the Food Bank must purchase fuel for our trucks, so we are able to pick up and deliver boxes of donated food throughout our 11-parish service area.

Another challenge we are facing as we enter 2022 will be limitations on USDA food inventory. Food banks who purchase food through the USDA at deeply discounted prices will be forced to purchase food through higher priced vendors due to anticipated shortages in available USDA food product. What’s more, the high demand for food when the food supply has become limited causes inflated prices for both food banks and individuals. This creates a turbulent cycle for families experiencing food insecurity who are simply doing their best to provide while the economy recovers from natural disasters such as Hurricane Ida, coronavirus, unemployment, and inflation.

Amidst these challenges, we also see Louisiana falling short when compared to the rest of the country. Currently, Louisiana leads the nation in child hunger with 1 in 4 children in the state being food insecure and is very near the top in senior food insecurity. Higher food and fuel costs forces families experiencing food insecurity and those who may have been able to get out of our lines to rely even more heavily on or return to food banks to fill the gap between each meal. The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank is expecting our food lines to grow longer due to an increase in need for our services.

A big focus for us in 2022 will be launching new and innovative ways to reach more people who are in need but don’t know where to turn for help. We want families and individuals to be able to find the help that they need and to be able to access the information they need to get food for their families. Launching our mobile app with timely details on food distributions and more is just one way we are trying to expand our reach to those who are in need but may only have access to a cell phone.

There is much to consider and much to be done, but we always will be here working to fulfill our mission. With your help, we will continue to innovate and improve our efficiency and effectiveness to ensure there is food on the tables of our neighbors in need. We truly appreciate your continued commitment in answering the call to serve others.