COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Next Wednesday's annual Season of Sharing holiday food drive comes at a time when the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic and the economy are creating unusual challenges for the Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado.
Officials said that inflation is up 8.5%, the cost of acquiring food is up 12% and the number of people needing food had risen 23 percent while food supplies are down 30%.
Federal assistance to food banks -- which peaked earlier in the pandemic -- has ended, contributing to less food coming in.
Also, the economic situation has resulted in fewer monetary donations; a $1 donation pays for five meals now, as compared to eight meals before the pandemic.
Care and Share is asking for more donations, and opportunities to volunteer also are available.
You're asked to bring non-perishable canned goods and items such as peanut butter, to the food drive next week.
Nathan Springer, the new president and CEO of Care and Share, said that this is a good time to check on employees, relatives, friends and neighbors.
"You might be surprised," he said. "There's a lot of them struggling out there, and they need your help. What we've seen is a new group of people, working class families, who were living from paycheck to paycheck but have now crossed into a threshold of need because of the economy."
Springer explained that the situation would be worse if support from corporations, foundations and grants hadn't remained stable.
"Neighborhood food drives have been consistent, too," he said. "Schools are helping us with that."
Care and Share also has a goal of handing out 10,000 turkeys during the next two weeks, ending with the Nov. 18 "Take a Turkey to Work Day."
"We know that so many happy holiday memories are associated with food," he said.
Care and Share serves 31 counties and 291 partner agencies; the food bank also has a distribution center in Pueblo and expects to open a third center in Alamosa by the end of the year.
"I'd ask everybody to look at food waste," Springer said. "Just because your can of food has an expiration date, doesn't mean it's not edible. Bring it to us, let us look at it and see if we can get it to someone in need."
Care and Share also has started a service that will use Door Dash to deliver free food bundles to senior citizens who may find traveling for food difficult.