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Nonprofits step in as rising grocery prices impact communities

By Kristen Aguirre

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — Right now, grocery prices are increasing.

This comes as beef prices are already up 14% this year, Pork prices have jumped 12.1% and poultry prices are 6.6%.

Many experts say the demand for goods during the pandemic has also helped increase prices.

According to the Department of Labor, prices were up 5.3% year-over-year from last August.

The impact of grocery store prices is now trickling down to local nonprofit organizations like BeLoved Asheville.

“Hunger is a silent emergency and we’re answering the call for,” Amy Cantrell, BeLoved Asheville’s co-director said.

Organizations like BeLoved are working to combat those rising grocery store prices with tools like their street pantry. Organizers say these street pantries have become increasingly necessary through out the pandemic.

“We know access is a huge issue, people don’t have enough food,” Cantrell said. “They don’t have enough healthy food and people are struggling to access.”

So, Cantrell and her team brought that access to the streets.

“We recognized many agencies were not open, so we wanted to make access right here on the streets.” she said. “Close to where lots of people live.”

Right now, the nonprofit has 13 street pantries throughout the community.

“So, these street pantries offer access 24-7 for anybody in our community that needs it,” Cantrell said.

And there are more to come.

“It’s becoming a bigger and bigger issue because prices are going up and families are struggling here,” she said.

Right now the pantries are restocked twice a day.

“We’re seeing a lot more need so, these are even more crucial, they’re getting emptied faster,” Cantrell said.

She tells News 13 BeLoved has distributed 5 to 6 million pounds of food through the pantries since the start of the pandemic.

“People cannot afford the food and people are working less with the pandemic,” she said.

It’s an issue Cantrell wants the community to see fully.

“We know hunger stalks the streets of Asheville and Buncombe county,” she said. “Hunger is a growing issue here in our community, compounded by the pandemic and the housing situation and work that doesn’t often pay enough to live on.”

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