SPOKANE, Wash. — Thanksgiving dinner essentials like turkey, potatoes and cranberries are more expensive than ever because of inflation. The money spent at the grocery store is only exacerbating food insecurity in the Inland Northwest.
For more than 22 years, Tom’s Turkey Drive has been committed to helping meet the needs of our neighbors. This year, that mission is the same, but record inflation is creating new challenges to meet the demand.
Second Harvest in Spokane said the need from their 150 partner organizations have gone up 45% and the majority of them are running out of food. Eric Williams is the Community Partnerships Director for 2nd Harvest. He said they are seeing people who have never been to a food bank before.
“It’s not our nature to cry ‘wolf,’ but it is our nature to be candid and transparent: We have never faced a situation like we are now," Williams said. "And we need your help to try to meet the hunger challenges facing our neighbors."
Wells Fargo just put out new numbers looking at the cost of the Thanksgiving meal. It found inflation raised the cost of groceries more than it would cost the average family to eat Thanksgiving dinner out at a restaurant.
In all, food costs are up nearly 10% on average compared to this time last year. A look at popular Thanksgiving ingredients and the numbers are even more staggering: flour is up 17%, butter is up nearly 26% and eggs are up nearly 33%.
Turkey's might be flightless, but the cost of them are soaring. The Department of Agriculture reports prices for an 8 to 16-pound bird are up by 73% from last year.
Ongoing inflation is only partially to blame, the H5N1 strain of the bird flu is also responsible for the dramatic price surge. Thankfully, Tom's Turkey Drive and Rosauers ordered turkey's last January. However, inflation is making each of the 11,000 boxes we send out that much more expensive.
"So 20 bucks covers the cost of the turkey but not a lot more,” Williams explained.
Not to mention the price of fuel is driving up costs too and how much is donated to Second Harvest.
"The farmers who grow the food rely on diesel. So all of those things are kind of conspiring to push food prices up,” Williams said.
When you donate to Tom’s Turkey Drive, 100% of the donation goes to buying food for a family. KREM 2 and our partners know many are struggling financially, so it was important to us to keep the price of the Rosauers bag at $20.
“All of us kind of took a big breath together and said, 'Let's keep it at $20.' For this year, we're we're probably going to have to revisit that for next year,” Williams said.