LAKELAND, Fla. — The spike in the cost of food is hitting communities facing food insecurity the hardest.
Every week Bobbie Jo Joiner drives through the Blessings and Hope Food Pantry distribution line in Lakeland, where she receives groceries to feed her entire family. She said the soaring prices at the supermarket has made it hard to put food on the table.
“You can’t leave out of the store with just a few items and it’s $50 already. That's hurtful right now, on everybody,” said Joiner.
The groceries Joiner receives will be used to prepare Thanksgiving dinner. “Now I don’t have to worry if we’re going to have something to eat on Thanksgiving, so this is amazing,” Joiner said.
Nearly 14% of Polk County residents experience food insecurity according to Feeding America.
“Polk County is the number two in the United States, county for food insecurity,” said Rev. Allan Fretto, President of Blessings and Hope Food Pantry.
Fretto saw the number of families served by Blessings and Hope Food Pantry climb from 500 families at the beginning of the pandemic, to now nearly 700 families. He said they’ve outgrown the building that stores the food and are now looking for help to build a warehouse.
“I’m moving pallets and pallets. Tens of thousands of pounds of food every day to make room in here. If we have a construction firm out there that could help us with materials,” he said.
In the meantime, they’ll continue to help those who don’t know where their next meal will come from.