Inflation taking toll on Omaha food pantry

Upcoming food drive to benefit efforts at St. Vincent de Paul
Rising prices are also taking a toll on those who help others in need.
Published: May. 26, 2022 at 6:53 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - It’s not just the holidays when families in need look for help putting food on the table.

The pandemic and inflation have grown the need, putting pressure on food pantries as they try to help families that find themselves in need year-round.

High prices at the pump and the grocery store are driving more people to food pantries.

Gary Rose is one of many people who come to the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry. He says it helps a lot because prices in the stores are just too high.

“It’s rough,” he said. “I went to the store the other day — it was $9 for a little pack of hamburger. ... It’s getting tight.”

Things are also getting tight for Sandra Walker, especially at the end of the month.

“At the end of the month, I’m out. Out of food, and out of... If it wasn’t for this pantry, I would be... You know what I mean,” she said.

There are a growing number of people who know what Walker means. Many come here for help.

“We’ve seen the needs skyrocket, in fact — because of gas prices, increasing food shortages, supply-chain disruptions — we’ve seen the need absolutely increase,” said Gillian Cromwell, St. Vincent de Paul pantry manager. “It’s been a very difficult time for a lot of families. … We’ve also seen our donations decrease because of those same reasons.”

The pantry is in need of the staples: rice, beans, soup, cereal, and pasta. And right now, there are families that need hard-to-find and expensive items.

“There’s always a need for diapers, and fortunately, we have some formula, and folks have been able to get the formula they need. But diapers are always a critical need for us.”

Mark Sand is one of the many volunteers that make everything work around here.

“After I came the first time, I found out the people here are fantastic,” Sand said. “They really care about those in need, and I wanted to be part of that group.”

Gary Henningsen has been a volunteer for 14 years. He said he just wants to give back to the community.

“It’s a job that you do because people are always thankful — not always, but most of the time — they’re very thankful for what we do,” he said. “They thank us; they ask God’s blessing on us as we try to ask for them.”

How you can help

Help 6 News Stuff the Bus next week with donations for St. Vincent de Paul’s food pantry. Our food drive, sponsored by Methodist Health System, is set for 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, June 2, when volunteers will be collecting nonperishable food items at two locations.

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