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Food pantries see higher demand during holiday season, and expect more demand to come in 2023

Local food banks saw a rising number of people needing assistance this year, especially around Christmas, and they’re anticipating even more in 2023.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Food pantries like the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank say they have been busier than anticipated this holiday season. 

It’s a situation that Executive Director Joe Arthur calls a ‘quieter hunger crisis.’

“This is really a hunger crisis," said Arthur. “The only time we saw a higher need in the 40-year history of the Food Bank, was during the peak of the pandemic.”

Arthur attributes higher demand to ongoing inflation that is impacting family finances, and lingering disruptions in the job market.

"We’re hearing some really incredible increases; rent is at 20% and 30%. So that’s really throwing people off their budgets for sure," said Arthur. "There are lots of jobs that seem to be available, but whether they’re paying enough to afford family expenses is a different story.”

Entering the New Year, the Central Pa. Food Bank is anticipating more people needing assistance in an uncertain economy. The current inflation rate sits at 7.1%, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Until the inflation subsides, we’re going to continue to see more families who are in need of help, even without a recession," said Arthur.

He credits the hard work of volunteers, who worked tirelessly through the holiday season to help send food out to families in need. He also says donations from the community made it possible to meet the demand.

However, Arthur says more of that will be needed in 2023.

“We’re going to continue to ask for help and we’re going to continue to ask our volunteers to give us their hard work and hours that we depend on," he sad..

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