SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) — Just as Bay Area food banks have stepped up to manage demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they are now responding to continued pressure to serve more people with the added impact of inflation. .

As the holiday season approaches, food distribution agencies are bracing for increased demand amid rising costs.

“This is a particularly challenging time,” Tracey Weatherby, vice president of strategy and advocacy for Second Harvest of Silicon Valley told ABC7 News. “We recently conducted a customer survey and over 60% of our customers said they had less than $250 in savings.”

Weatherby said food budgets are usually the first place people save to make ends meet.

Food insecurity has undoubtedly been highlighted and accentuated during the pandemic. It was a time when Second Harvest was seeing demand double to 500,000 people each month.

“It went down to about 400,000 last year, and we thought maybe that was the new normal,” she described. “But with inflation and gas prices, and everything that’s going on with the economy, we’re now up about 450,000 people every month.”

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A real-time reflection, describes Weatherby.

Federal data shows grocery prices have jumped 12.4% since the start of the year. Egg prices alone have increased by 43%. And with two weeks to Thanksgiving, the countdown is on to make every dollar count.

“What we’re trying to do is ease that pain a little bit over the holiday season,” said Demone Carter of Sacred Heart Community Service.

He said the goal between Thanksgiving and Christmas was for Sacred Heart to distribute 18,500 boxes of food. They are asking people to help supplement the holiday meal by making a donation.

“We really need turkeys. We’ve heard there are supply chain issues and bird flu and things like that. So they’re not as easy to find as they are. may have been in previous years,” he shared. “Frozen chickens, hams, turkeys, canned goods – especially those with pop tops are much needed this holiday season.”

Of course, these organizations are not immune to problems. Many have to factor in gas prices and driving to get food to distributions, and the food itself.

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“We face a lot of the same challenges as our customers,” Weatherby told ABC7 News. “The cost of food is going up for us, the cost of gas and freight to get our food to the distributions where it needs to be is going up.”

Costs are piling up, while trying to meet an increased need.

“It’s a big push for us, but we have a lot of people behind us,” said Pastor Ralph Olmos of Lighthouse Food Rescue and Distribution.

It’s a small operation in the heart of San Jose’s Northside neighborhood that plans to help 15,000 people over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Olmos said it’s an effort made possible through partnerships with grocers and other nonprofits.

“We rely heavily on grocery stores. So partnerships with Safeway, Grocery Outlet, Lunardi’s, Trader Joe’s — those are big go-tos,” he described.

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The pastor said independent partners also include Second Harvest and many others.

“It’s a lot of sharing. Sharing resources,” he said. “Because some may have a high volume of turkeys, and some may have a high volume of mashed potatoes. And it’s like one has one piece and the other has the other.”

“So we really need to come together to really come up with a good meal,” Pastor Olmos described.

Beyond donations, each organization said volunteers are also needed and welcome.

For more information on Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, click here.

For more information on Sacred Heart Community Service, click here.

For more information on Lighthouse Food Rescue and Distribution, click here.

If you’re on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live

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