A committee of the King County Council has passed legislation that would task the county with identifying resources to help local food banks that are struggling from the impacts of rising inflation, labor shortages, and historic interest rate spikes. The measure was passed unanimously out of the council’s Law, Justice, Health, and Human Services Committee yesterday.
“At this very moment across King County, food banks are not able to keep up,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “Combined with the most vulnerable being hit the hardest by increasing costs of basic goods and services this is a recipe for disaster. We need to act now to ensure food banks are getting the supplies they need to serve communities across King County.”
The council says as emergency COVID-19 aid wanes, food banks are still experiencing high demand. At the same time, high inflation rates impacting the costs of groceries are causing more people to turn to food banks for help. Those same inflation rates have reduced the amount of donations food banks are receiving and have also increased the costs of buying food to keep their supply sufficiently stocked.
“Food banks are vital pillars of our communities. They feed families in need, provide water during the many heat waves over the summer, and even connect individuals to resources like rental assistance, job training, health services, and more,” said committee chair Girmay Zahilay. “If we want healthy and happy communities, we must support our food banks.”
According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index report for Seattle in July 2022, inflation is up more than 8 percent from 2021. Food prices have jumped 10.3 percent from a year ago. The report also detailed how energy prices increased 28.5 percent over the year. This increase is largely attributed to the 39.4 percent increase in gas prices.
This legislation asks King County to look at all possible ways to support food banks through a process of outreach to identify needs and to figure out what assistance might be provided, such as grants or volunteer recruitment. The legislation will be heard for a final vote at the Sept. 20 full Council meeting.