KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee is one of the leading organizations trying to make families more food secure in East Tennessee. However, higher gas and food prices are making it more challenging.
In some cases, it said the price of food has doubled. It buys food by truckloads, filling each truck with around 40,000 pounds of chicken, spaghetti, fruit and many other kinds of food. Its fleet of 33 trucks has gotten more expensive to manage.
Filling up one of its tractor-trailers costs around $1,362, according to officials with the food bank. They said it costs Second Harvest around $200,000 annually to fuel the fleet — an increase of around 20% and they said the cost is continuing to rise.
The cost of food has seen similarly staggering cost increases. They said in 2020, the cost of chicken was around $1.79 per pound. But in 2022, it increased by almost 75% and now costs around $3.12 per pound.
Spaghetti's price tag has also increased. In 2021, it cost around $0.45 per pound. In just one year, it increased by almost 55% to $0.70 per pound.
Second Harvest also said it is getting more expensive to make sure families have fresh fruit on their plates. In 2021, the cost of mandarin oranges was around $0.81 per pound. The next year, it increased by around 55% as well to $1.25 per pound.
Second Harvest serves 18 counties in East Tennessee, helping stock the shelves of food banks across the region. It also organized food drives and other kinds of events to help fight food insecurity in the region.
It said around 1 in 4 children in the area are at risk of hunger, and around a fifth of all adults are also at risk of going hungry. It said a total of 239,880 people are going hungry in East Tennessee, and it's getting more expensive to put food on their plates.