ALBANY, N.Y. (News10)- Food pantries are serving more people once again as inflation continues to rise and it is affecting the most vulnerable.

Willie Daniels told News10’s Anya Tucker that he was just laid off from his job and he could really use some help with expenses for things like groceries.

So, he comes to the St. Vincent De Paul Food Pantry in Albany where he can find nutritious food for free.

Anya asked what he would do if he didn’t have the food pantry. Daniels said, “I probably would go door to door asking people saying, ‘Can you spare food? Anything.’”

He is like many people struggling with food insecurity during a time of skyrocketing inflation.

Angela Warner, the director of the pantry says benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP are not going as far as they used to due to inflation. She says she saw a big spike in new guests at the start of March. “We were just overwhelmed with guests coming to shop,” said Warner.

“Year to date, this year compared to last year, we are already 10-percent up in our service level numbers,”
said Natasha Pernicka, the Executive Director at the Food Pantries for the Capital District. St. Vincent is one of 70 locations within their coalition of pantries.

Pernicka says the spike in need boils down to two issues colliding all at once. The recent end of the Child Tax Credit which had offered COVID relief to families who are at the same time grappling with rising inflation and thus higher food prices.

“So, we do want people to know that food pantries are here to help fill in the gaps,” added Pernicka.

There is no hassle and few questions for anyone needing help. The Food Pantries for the Capital District makes it super easy to locate a pantry near you with their online Food Map.

Warner says people may not realize that 40-percent of the guests they serve are children. She adds that her work is all about building relationships within the community. “We welcome people. This is what we do. We build relationships.”