KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – Economists say on a national level, the supply chain is experiencing several challenges, which is likely the result of COVID-19 disruptions paired with a boom in demand.
Shortages of workers, equipment, space and a rise in transportation costs have contributed to making the issue worse.
In light of these challenges, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee says they have worked hard on the front end to stay prepared as the organization is full-steam ahead to Thanksgiving.
Their annual “Project Thanksgiving” kicked off Monday. The goal is to provide more than 6,000 families in need with a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
“The food insecurity rate has not dropped back down all the way to where it was pre-pandemic,” said Second Harvest Executive Director Rhonda Chafin.
With more than 82,000 people food insecure in our region, Chafin says they could not afford to wait it out when it comes to supply chain disruptions.
“We are strategically planning and looking at our food supply to make sure we have a good supply and we don’t run out,” said Chafin.
Chafin says early action means the supply chain challenges seen nationally will not affect them for Thanksgiving and their shelves are well-stocked at this time, but after the holiday, it could be up in the air.
“We are keeping a pulse on the supply chain as far as food, and we are making sure we can get food into our area if it is needed. We know that it will be needed after Project Thanksgiving, into the holiday and into the new year,” said Chafin.
So, what is happening with the supply chain? Economists say it never recovered from COVID-19 and demand is increasing.
“What we are trying to do is everything we can to make sure our shelves are stocked and they are stocked with products our customers can afford to buy,” Leslie Sarasin, President and CEO of the Food Industry Association, told News Channel 11.
Sarasin says the issues boil down to higher prices for food and possible shortages in certain brands, products and sizes.
“It’s sort of a double whammy of supply chain challenges and increased demand that is affecting the price of food these days,” said Sarasin.
She added that no one needs to panic, but consumers should plan now for the holidays.
“If we are all planning ahead and being responsible with how we handle this, we are not going to have any issues in having access to food products,” said Sarasin.
For those at Second Harvest, they say they need donations from the community to keep their shelves stocked and to combat any potential shortages.
They also report a 50% increase in the cost of transporting food to the food bank.
“Those donations go directly to purchase food, to source food, to transport food,” said Chafin. “Support from the community is truly so important in replenishing our inventory to make sure Second Harvest has enough food at all times. We could not do this work without the community.”
For more information on how to donate to Second Harvest, visit their website.