Greenville Food Bank suffers from supply chain shortages

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Supply chain shortages are affecting industries nationwide, and that includes food banks that work to help those in need.

Food banks in the east have seen an 11 percent since the start of the pandemic and that need is expected to grow during the holidays.

Thursday, volunteers packaged sweet potatoes at the Greenville branch of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. While this item was plentiful, others are running low or completely gone.

“We have had a real drop in our food drives and food donations that normally come from the public so the food bank is now in a position where we are going to have to purchase more food,” said branch director George Young.

As the US Labor Department reported this month, the Consumer Price Index has risen 6.2 percent, the most since December 1990.

Food banks rely on many different avenues for their goods: food drives, grocery chains, farmers, and food manufactures. “But right now, the food is not getting turned over as quickly because it’s taking so long to get the food to our distribution points and then back out to our food pantries,” said Young.

Dr. Jon Kirchoff of ECU’s School of Business is an expert in supply chain management.

“Suddenly, as consumers and customers are trying to get all of the things that we like to buy, they’re finding themselves in a pinch,” he said.

It’s a pinch that is squeezing the holiday season, especially for those who use community donated resources.

“There’s multiple factors challenging us presently,” said Young. “When the consumers are having the same issue, they ask themselves, ‘Am I going to provide for my family or am I going to donate some food to the food bank?’”

With perishable goods, it is hard to expect companies to have the full stock after the past year of uncertainty.

“It’s not like companies can stock up a lot on perishable products in anticipation of something that’s going to happen,” said Kirchoff. “They can stock up on canned goods, dried goods, and things like that which last longer, but even those have a shelf life.”

Some supply chain experts estimate that the scales of supply and demand will even themselves out in 2023, but Dr. Kirchoff is more optimistic that things can return to normal at the start of 2022.

Regardless of the prediction, this year’s holiday season will be upset by supply chain woes.

Consumers are urged to buy early, if they can, consider alternatives for their specific favorite items, and to lend a hand to the less fortunate as they are able to.

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