CLEARFIELD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – Last month, America hit a 40-year high with inflation which is now creating a rise in people utilizing food pantries and homelessness across the country.
From gas prices, grocery stores and everyday needs, inflation is making items more expensive daily. This in return is creating a need for food pantries and growing the number of homeless in America. This is being felt in Clearfield County where more and more residents are needing assistance.
“I was looking at trends back at the beginning of this fiscal year and we’re seeing about a 31% increase in households seeking enrollment in our food pantries,” Executive Director of Central Pennsylvania Community Action INC., Michelle Stiner, said.
This is just one food pantry that is seeing an uptick in customers. The Salvation Army in DuBois is also seeing a significant uprise in numbers.
“Last month we saw an increase of 25 families and this month we’ve seen 10 additional families on top of those 25 from last month,” Captain of The Salvation Army, Brianne Spooner said. “So we are up in the hundreds of helping people with food every month. We’re seeing more people come for different reasons, some people it’s because the gas prices make it difficult for them to travel to different places to get food and different items they need and for some people, this is just been kind of their norm to get things here.”
Not only are food pantry numbers going up but so is the rise of homelessness in America. Here in Pennsylvania, over 15,000 people are known to be homeless. This is due to inflation increases driving up rental costs. According to a research program called Up For Growth, housing prices in Pennsylvania rose by 14% from 2020 to 2021. In Central Pennsylvania, there has been an increase of 40% since 2017.
“I mean we continue to see we receive about 40-50 applications per week, people who are either homeless or possibly gonna become homeless,” Stiner said.