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Food inflation predicted to go up by the end of 2022 impacting low-income families the most

Produce section of a grocery store
Alejandro Figueroa
Prices for foods such as chicken, fish, and eggs increased 14 percent over the last 12 months, that’s the largest 12-month increase in prices since May of 1979.

The U.S. The Department of Agriculture released a report this month that predicts food prices will increase by about 7% by the end of the year. Low-income families will be impacted the most.

Prices for foods such as chicken, fish, and eggs increased 14 percent over the last 12 months. That’s the largest 12-month increase in prices since May of 1979, according to a report released by the Consumer Price Index.

Low income families already spend a quarter of their annual income on food alone. With the rising cost of food it’s getting more difficult for these families to meet their basic needs.

Stephen Scanlan, a professor of sociology at Ohio University, said he believes this is a moment when more people will reflect on what poverty is like in America.

“If there’s an increased awareness, then we're going to think differently about poverty. We're going to realize that all of a sudden it's not something that we can blame on them or some kind of character trait that they have. But something that is a part of society," Scanlan said.

Despite supply chain woes early in the pandemic, widespread job losses in 2020 and food prices going up, in part, due to the war in Ukraine, food insecurity rates across the country have not increased.

That’s thanks in part to programs early on in the pandemic such as P-EBT — which provides SNAP benefits to children who miss school due to COVID. Enhanced SNAP benefits and free lunches at schools for children. Much of those programs will expire soon though.

Scanlan said funding social safety nets are part of the solution, but they don’t address the root cause that leads low-income families to struggle through times of inflation. He added advocating for more affordable housing and increasing wages need to be part of the conversation.

“There are a lot of vulnerabilities people are experiencing in the way they access food, health care, the way the system works,” Scanlan said. That need for fair and just wages, that need for health care, that need for fair rent, access to good food, it all connects.”

In Ohio, as food inflation goes on, many advocates are pushing for the government to keep funding vital programs that helped many Ohioans avoid hunger in the first place.

Food reporter Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Support for WYSO's reporting on food and food insecurity in the Miami Valley comes from the CareSource Foundation.
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