By Joe Gomez
As food prices continue to increase because of inflation, more Americans say that this Thanksgiving, they’re turning to local food banks to get essentials for the holiday feast.
“This is the first time I’ve had to pick up a box of everyday staples from a food bank in my life,” Brenda Stuart, of Washington, told The Epoch Times.
“I am not destitute; I have a job, but I can’t afford to make Thanksgiving dinner the way prices are at the grocery store.”
Ms. Stuart is one of several people interviewed by The Epoch Times who said that they’ve been forced to seek out food assistance ahead of the holidays because of soaring costs at the supermarket.
“I can buy a live turkey for just about the same price it costs to buy a frozen one at the store,” Tammy Moore, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, told The Epoch Times. “I was going to pick up some cranberry sauce, then I saw how expensive it was, and I wanted to vomit.”
Canned cranberries have increased in price by 7 percent compared to a year ago, according to the annual Wells Fargo Thanksgiving consumer report. The report also indicates that the cost of turkeys is actually down by 16 percent compared to fall 2022, while ham—up by 5.2 percent from a year ago—has hit an all-time high.
Fresh numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index (CPI) also show that prices for food at home rose by 0.3 percent in October after rising 0.1 percent in September, while grocery prices overall have increased by nearly 17 percent in the past two years.
The CPI is the most widely followed measure of inflation.
Some Americans who are visiting food banks for the first time said that they feel shame and never thought that they would be in a food crisis in the most powerful country in the world.
“Yes, I lease an Audi and rent an apartment in Georgetown. OK, I’m a little over my head, but I didn’t think it would ever come to this,” Isaac Montgomery, of Washington, told The Epoch Times. “It’s humiliating having to ask for welfare because of how the country is right now.”
Mr. Montgomery, who doesn’t identify with any political party, said that things were better under then-President Donald Trump.
“Even during the pandemic, he kept [expletive] together; it seems like once President Joe Biden took over, things started go downhill,” he said. “I can’t keep up with my bills.”
A recent study released by Bankrate shows that wages won’t be able to outpace inflation until the end of 2024.
“If the job market remains relatively strong and economic growth proceeds, many workers should be able to retain employment and to pocket wage gains that remain above the rate of inflation,” Bankrate Senior Economic Analyst Mark Hamrick said.
Several major retailers have stepped in to make the traditional turkey dinner more affordable for consumers.
Target is offering a Thanksgiving dinner that will feed four people for $25, which includes a 10-pound turkey and an assortment of sides.
“We know our guests are looking for incredible value and ease as they get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with their loved ones,” said Rick Gomez, chief food and beverage officer at Target.
Walmart is also offering low-priced Thanksgiving meal options that include turkeys for less than $1 a pound and various side dishes.
Although inflation continues to wreak havoc for many Americans this holiday season, President Biden has been campaigning for reelection across the country, trying to build enthusiasm for his economic record.
“The unemployment rate has stayed below 4 percent for 20 months in a row, the longest stretch in 50 years, and inflation is coming down at the same time. It’s down from 60 percent—it’s down 60 percent since last summer,” President Biden said at a rally in Minnesota on Nov. 1. “Folks, all of this is no accident. It’s Bidenomics.”
Some voters, meanwhile, seem baffled as to how Bidenomics is working if prices continue to rise.
“When was the last time he walked into a Kroger grocery store?” Ashley Gutierrez of Moorefield, West Virginia, told The Epoch Times. “I think his people are telling him lies.”
According to national polling conducted by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, only 35 percent of Americans trust Democrats more than Republicans on economic issues. And when those surveyed were told that economists say that inflation is going down and unemployment is at record lows, 7 out of 10 believed it.
Another poll recently released by the Financial Times and the University of Michigan found that only 14 percent of voters believe that they’re better off financially now than when President Biden took office.
“I hear Biden talk a lot about how there are high-paying jobs out there. Maybe for his friends, but everybody I know is barely making it,” Ms. Gutierrez said.
She said that even with the $766 in benefits that she receives from the state’s supplemental nutrition assistance program each month, it isn’t enough to buy groceries for her family.
“I have two kids, I go to Kroger once a month, and all my food stamps are gone because that’s how expensive food is,” Ms. Gutierrez said. “For the rest, I rely on Mountaineer a local food bank.”
The price of food isn’t the only thing to have increased because of inflation.
The average cost of auto insurance, which jumped by 1.9 percent just from September to October, has soared by nearly 20 percent from a year ago. As new and used vehicles have grown more expensive, so has the cost of insuring them. And health insurance prices rose by 1.1 percent last month, although that was largely because of a change in the government’s methodology.
Gas prices, despite a steep decline from a year ago, are still 46 percent higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
But even as some price increases slow, it doesn’t mean that inflation is necessarily reversing. The CPI is still about 20 percent higher than it was before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.