By Kelly Werthmann

DENVER (CBS4) – The rate of inflation in the United States jumped to a 40-year high in March, up to 8.5%. It’s the fastest inflation rate since 1981.

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With higher prices on just about everything everywhere, many families in Colorado are finding it hard to make ends meet. Even resources for those in need are feeling the pinch – like Food Bank of the Rockies. The non-profit coordinates with more than 800 food pantries across Colorado and Wyoming, distributing 1.5 million meals every week on average.

“It’s impacted us more than we could’ve imagined,” said Erin Pulling, CEO of Food Bank of the Rockies, “because we purchase food by the truckload.”

Inside the organization’s distribution center in Denver, volunteers unload those trucks and stock the shelves with pallets of various foods. From canned goods to fresh produce, all to eventually be enjoyed by people in need of food assistance.

“We’re focusing on fresh foods more than ever before,” Pulling told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “And culturally responsive foods and high-quality foods for those in need.”

(credit: CBS)

Yet, like everyone, that is getting more and more expensive to do.

“Almost every food item we purchase has gone up dramatically,” Pulling said. “Items we purchase a lot of are things like ground beef which has gone up 27% in the last year, spaghetti is up 15%, canned fruit is up 30%.”

Add in surging gas prices to transport the food and Pulling said the non-profit’s monthly costs have tripled since 2019, before the pandemic.

“We are now spending almost $1 million every single month on food and freight,” she said.

That 7-figure monthly cost is also spurred by a decrease in USDA food available, she added, along with an increase in need.

“So many people over the last two, two and a half years have needed help with food assistance for the first time in their lives,” Pulling said. “We’ve seen a slight drop-off in that, but just slight. We are still serving more people than we were pre-COVID.”

Even with a rise in costs and people trying to make ends meet, Pulling said it won’t stop Food Bank of the Rockies from providing healthy and nutritious products.

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“We’re working with local agricultural partners to purchase fresh produce as well as increase the amount of food that we get donated,” she explained. “What that means is we’re depending on the generosity of community truly more than ever.”

LINK: Food Bank of the Rockies

Kelly Werthmann