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Food banks and nonprofits struggling with spiking grocery prices

Nonprofits across East Tennessee are preparing to feed hundreds and thousands of people on Thanksgiving. It's not as easy as previous years.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Families across East Tennessee have probably noticed higher grocery bills as the cost of meats, milk, bread and many other common kinds of food crawl upward. They're not the only ones with tight budgets.

Nonprofits across East Tennessee are preparing to feed people on Thanksgiving. Some, like the Knox Area Rescue Ministries, are expecting to feed more than 300 people on Thanksgiving Day. Officials said they have enough food to go around, but may not have enough plates for everyone.

They said the cost of buying disposal goods like paper plates and Styrofoam cups has ballooned to $7,647 — exceeding previous years. The organization is also in the middle of renovating its kitchen and dining room area, further straining the budget as they convert their chapel into a dining area.

"We've had to resort to Styrofoam trays, 12-ounce Styrofoam bowls and 12-ounce cups," said one official with KARM.

Meanwhile other food banks are seeing high food prices, even if they don't need to worry about higher costs of other goods. Second Harvest Food Bank said that a load of potatoes used to cost them around $600. Now, officials said they may pay between $2,000 and $6,000 for potatoes.

Higher costs are even affecting barbers, according to officials with Care Cuts. They provide free haircuts to people experiencing homelessness and provide around 400 people with meals every Sunday.

On Thanksgiving, they expect to have to feed more people than usual. And while their meals are sponsored by Alice's Diner on Broadway, they are still asking volunteers to bring some food to give away.

"I'm thinking we'll probably have 500 people or over," said one organizer with Care Cuts. "If you do volunteer, bring a gallon of iced tea."