St. Mary's Food Bank faces growing crowds as inflation puts pressure on Arizonans

By Athena Ankrah
Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2022 - 2:19pm
Updated: Wednesday, June 1, 2022 - 2:50pm
Audio icon Download mp3 (895.15 KB)

Nearly a thousand families lined up outside a single St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix on Tuesday, and even more are expected Wednesday.

Jerry Brown is the director of public relations at St. Mary’s. He says the start of summer usually results in more people in line for food assistance when school meal programs end. But this year, he says, the daily waiting lines are already reaching unusually high numbers that have not been seen since the peak of the pandemic.

“To give you an idea, at the height of the pandemic last year, we were feeding about 1,200 families, and now we’re topping 1,000 for the first time since then," Brown says.

Brown says inflation is one of many factors making food less affordable to families struggling with rising prices. Combined with supply side issues and the end of pandemic assistance from the federal government; Brown says he's left with fewer resources and just as many mouths to feed.

"Two years ago, we had the National Guard out here helping us distribute food. Right now, our volunteers are very low. We normally need 35 people to do the job — today we had six out there this morning," he says.

Food + Restaurants Social Justice
Listen to this story