KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – Inflation is impacting everyone, and Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee is no exception.

The food bank is not only working to help those struggling to feed their families as costs rise but trying to combat the rising prices themselves.

“I think the one thing we want to say to our community is we need their support more than ever before,” said executive director Rhonda Chafin.

This comes as federal programs through TEMA and USDA that helped supply Second Harvest with extra food during the pandemic have stopped.

“All that support is gone now,” said Chafin. “It’s time for us to really rely on our community.”

The call for help comes amid the perfect storm. Not only has the federal assistance halted, but inflation is also rocking the nation. As such, Second Harvest has seen a lull in food donations.

“We saw a big decline in food donations this year,” said Chafin.

In recent months the demand for food assistance has climbed back up to where it was during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thanks to inflation, demand is high but supply is low.

“People are faced with higher overall costs for fuel and food, and now we are seeing those numbers increase again at the levels of the pandemic.”

Second Harvest is working to feed the same heightened level of need, but now the food bank is without the federal programs that helped them meet that need.

The high cost of food and gas is impacting not only the families they serve but Second Harvest as well.

“The main impact we have seen is a 50% increase in our transportation costs. That is transporting food. 50%,” Chafin emphasized.

Chafin says Second Harvest is feeding around 45,000-50,000 people a month on average. They know there is a gap in services as around 80,000 people are food insecure in our region.

“They really depend on us, and we are very concerned because we are going to start into the summer months with far less food than we normally have and a higher demand for food than we normally have,” said Chafin.

Second Harvest is asking the community to step up. The best way to help the food bank is by volunteering your time at the food bank, donating food or giving money.

Local churches, groups or organizations can also host their own community food drives and donate what is given straight to Second Harvest.

For information on how to get involved, click this link.