Rising Food Prices Affect Thanksgiving Dinner Plans | Economy and Business News

Instead of buying all of her Thanksgiving food at once, Rebecca Raymond has bought party supplies here and there, each week, to keep her costs down.

Raymond, 48, lives in Montgomery in upstate New York with her husband and son. She has been unemployed since January, though she is scheduled to start a new job right after the holidays. Her husband works, but his pre-tax wages are enough to keep the family from qualifying for assistance, such as the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides benefits to low-income families to help them to buy food, or food banks, Raimundo said. “We did not get approval for Thanksgiving food distribution,” she posted on Twitter on Nov. 15.

“It doesn’t take into account rent, utilities, heat, insurance,” Raymond said of food assistance applications. Raymond and his family have cut back significantly on their food purchases as prices have skyrocketed this year.

“We’ve been eating a lot of pasta, chicken (when it’s on sale), stew burgers (cheaper meat) and breakfast for dinner,” which Raymond said in an email were less expensive items than what he used to buy. “Even the cost of milk is getting a little out of control,” he said, adding: “I know it will get better at some point, but with the income restrictions at food banks and SNAP benefits, people still don’t they can afford to feed their families as well as they would like.”

Since last Thanksgiving, grocery prices have risen 13 percent in the United States, according to the latest Consumer Price Index data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And almost every component of a traditional Thanksgiving meal has increased significantly in price over the past year. That has added to the woes of Americans already battling stubbornly high inflation and is taking its toll on a holiday where the focus is food, family and friends.

The price of poultry, including turkey, rose 16 percent. Fresh produce, key to many garnishes, rose 9 percent. Boxed pasta is up 17 percent and cheese is up 12 percent. Canned fruits and vegetables, including American Thanksgiving table standards, canned cranberry sauce and canned pumpkin, rose 19 percent. Bread has risen 15 percent. Coffee is up 15 percent. The price of baked goods rose 16 percent.

And if you think that making your own desserts will be cheaper? Flour is up 25 percent, butter 27 percent and eggs 43 percent.

“The rising cost of ingredients has made us cut back a bit,” Raymond said. Although he said that he had been able to obtain the ingredients for four of the usual garnishes from him, one had to go missing. “Mashed potatoes are usually on the menu, and it’s not worth making instant or production potatoes,” because of the cost. And he traded in his family’s usual morning treats for a less expensive option. “Breakfast usually consists of pastries or cinnamon rolls, which have been replaced with blueberry muffins from a mix I keep in my cabinet,” Raymond said.

Your family will host a friend and the friend’s child with nowhere else to go, but you will not host anyone else. They are supplementing the groceries with a basket they received from her son’s school, she said.

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‘Thanksgiving Price Rewind’

Some discount supermarket chains in the US have taken steps to ensure business doesn’t slump over the holidays as prices continue to rise.

The American outlets of Aldi, the German supermarket chain, are running a promotion in November called “Thanksgiving Price Rewind,” in which they have reduced the prices of holiday appetizers, desserts, sides, and drinks to their 2019 levels, in some cases. , up to 30 percent discount. “Why not try that extra garnish this year or invite a few more friends or family over?” said Dave Rinaldi, president of ALDI US, in a press release on November 1.

Kelli Jones of Pittsburgh, a cashier at an Aldi store there, said she paid for $7,000 worth of groceries Sunday during a four-hour shift at the register. “Grocery retail is crazy the week leading up to Thanksgiving,” she said. “Customers are arguing with us about coupons and limits on butter and the way the receipt shows the sale on turkeys. But some are great: One man gave me a fist bump and patted me on the back when I helped him find his food stamp balance. So, there were high points.”

Walmart announced on Nov. 3 that it would sell turkeys and some toppings, including stuffing, canned cranberry sauce and corn muffin mix, at their 2021 prices. Deals at the discount chain run through December.

Increased Demand at Food Banks

An August survey by Feeding America, a nonprofit network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries, found that 90 percent of food banks reported increased demand for supplies this year due to increased prices. grocery prices.

A man shops at a grocery store in Glenview, Illinois, USA.
Some US discount supermarket chains have reduced prices on holiday foods.[File: Nam Y Huh/AP Photo]

Cynthia Cumming, 65, a food pantry manager at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in West Orange, New Jersey, said her pantry is on track to serve 24,000 people in 2022, more than three times the number it served in 2019, before the pandemic and subsequent spike in food prices. They also switched from monthly to weekly food distribution during that time, Ella Cumming said.

However, Thanksgiving and the Christmas season in December “are when the general American public becomes very forgiving,” Cumming said. “In a way, Thanksgiving is the least of a person’s problems.” Food is no more affordable than it was last month and prices haven’t dropped, but food pantry customers will typically receive the sides for a full Thanksgiving dinner courtesy of increased food donations and time to organizations that fill pantry shelves. .

However, Cumming said: “You can’t live on donations alone. Donations are like the icing on the cake, not the bones of what we are doing.”

Cumming’s pantry is part of an interfaith network of 20 member pantries in Essex County, New Jersey, operated by Meeting Essential Needs With Dignity (MEND). It receives some food from MEND, including produce and other fresh foods, and some through partnerships with area businesses like Panera Bread, a national chain that donates day-old bread.

As pantry manager, she also receives a stipend of $10,000 a year, an allowance that goes back into the pantry when she buys basic groceries and anything else not covered by donations from local grocery stores or a distribution to fill both bags that your pantry gives you. weekly departure to each pattern.

“I’ve spent more money to have to buy food this year than any other year I’ve been in charge of running the food pantry” since 2010, Cumming said. She estimates that she has spent $20,000 so far in 2022, double what she spent last year. She said she often can’t afford to buy as many items as she would like and instead buys things like peanut butter and jelly and ramen noodles to supplement what her pantry customers receive from other sources.

“If ShopRite has a sale on something, I’ll get the sale [price]”said Cumming, referring to a supermarket chain with locations in six northeastern US states. “But food pantries don’t get any rest here.”

He also notes that not only have the prices increased, but the portions have shrunk. “All these companies have reduced from four to six ounces [113 to 170 grams] of all his things,” he observes. A bag of chips that now costs about $5, she said, contains just 11 ounces (312 grams) when the same size bag used to contain 16 ounces (454 grams). Same with cereal, she said. A half gallon (1.9 liters) of ice cream now contains only 48 fluid ounces (1.4 liters) of product. “Why would they want to change?” she asks. “Earn more money for less product”.

Cumming, who works for her local school district in addition to the food pantry, said she and her husband, who also works full time, are affected by rising food prices. “By the time we pay our bills and buy our food each month, we’re still living close to paycheck for paycheck,” she said.

Cumming solicits grants from other organizations to try to offset her stipend and those of her coordinator and the person who handles her trash so that donations can go solely to providing food, but, she said, that’s usually not enough.

This shouldn’t affect people’s willingness to give, Cumming said, but he hopes people will also think about food insecurity beyond the holidays. And, he points out to her, the money goes beyond a donated bag of food. Monetary donations to his pantry, Cumming said, have been low this year.

“You know, I think sometimes people prefer [to donate] a bag of food than to give me money, Cumming said. “I try to convey to people that I can do much more with the money you give me than with the bag of food you give me.”

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