Food Banks Straining to Meet Demand Show the Real Human Cost of Progressive Policies

Families are seeing the pinch at home, but so too are the charities that pick up the grocery bill for those who can’t make ends meet.


Thanks to inflation, Americans increasingly cannot afford their grocery bills. Global food prices are projected to increase 23 percent this year, on top of the 30 percent they increased last year. And per usual, those already living on the margins are feeling the consequences the most.

Food banks are struggling to keep up with the increased demand they’re experiencing. Families are seeing the pinch at home, but so too are the charities that pick up the grocery bill for those who can’t make ends meet. Many are struggling to keep up with the increased demand on top of the increased cost of food.

Forgotten Harvest, which serves the metro Detroit area, said demand increased 25 to 45 percent since December. According to the Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index, grocery bills increased by 10 percent in March compared to the year before while restaurant charges went up by 6.9 percent.

Furthermore, Feeding America, one of the nation’s largest charities working to prevent hunger with over 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries, reported 85 percent of their food banks saw increased demand for food assistance.

Tim Fetsch, the chief operating officer of the St. Louis Area Foodbank, which provides nearly 400,000 meals per year, told the Wall Street Journal, “We have had to work harder to secure the food needed to support the community.” He went on to explain that his organization is grappling with supply chain issues, increased transportation costs, and the increase in food prices. And he pointed out that while retail stores used to donate heavily to their program, they too are facing many of the same challenges.

For its part, Feeding America has begun purchasing its food for the first time to make up for the loss in donations. However, their President and Chief Operating Officer Katie Fitzgerald indicated that might not be a permanent solution, telling the Journal, “We’re still trying to purchase that food, but now it’s costing us 40 percent more.”

How do you say “we told you so” in progressive?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the left has mocked those of us who said the response to the coronavirus might be worse than the disease itself. We were called grandma killers, selfish, idiots. (Never mind the fact that Democratic governors actually killed grandmas by sending infected patients back into nursing homes.)

But every step along the way we have been horribly right.

In March of 2020, we at FEE.org published a headline that read, “Panic Has Led to Government ‘Cures’ That Are Worse than the Disease, History Shows.”

While the New York Times called for more stimulus spending, Tyler Goodspeed (a Fellow at the Adam Smith Institute) wrote in The Hill, “Back to ’70s inflation? How Biden’s spending spree will hurt your wallet.” That was in July of 2021. The Washington Post was advocating lockdowns even as recently as this past December writing, “Lockdowns can be necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus.” Meanwhile, my colleague at FEE.org has been presciently pointing to the unscientific nature of such claims—reporting all the way back in May of 2020, “Sweden’s Top Infectious Disease Expert Says COVID-19 Lockdowns Are Not Based on Science. History Shows He Could Be Right.”

It’s been like watching a car crash in slow motion while being unable to intervene and stop it.

The response to the coronavirus was worse than the disease, which has a less than 1 percent death rate for the vast majority of people, and for which a vaccine was quickly developed.

There are myriad repercussions we can point to that stemmed from lockdowns and stimulus spending: increases in domestic abuse, loss of education, an increase in poverty, staggering inflation, increases in hunger. The list goes on.

All of these repercussions were predictable and predicted by many who understand the tendency of central planning to generate adverse unintended consequences. Kids can’t just make up for years of learning lost. Trapping people in their homes can be dangerous when their living situation is unstable. Shutting down the economy was always going to lead to supply chain disruptions and shortages, while printing trillions of dollars is bound to lead to inflation.

Our government decided to be truly detached from economic reality and pursue both lockdowns and money printing—meaning you had a huge increase in dollars chasing a decreased number of goods. That’s the specific recipe for high inflation and anyone who didn’t say that all along should probably revisit basic economics.

And lastly, it was clear all along we would see an increase in poverty and hunger as a result of pushing people out of work, limiting the supply chain, and creating high inflation. All of this goes hand-in-hand.

This is yet another example of how the left’s policies hurt the very people they claim to stand for the most. It’s good to care about the poor, but we can’t help them if we don’t understand the economic factors that actually lead to prosperity. A bleeding heart paired with an economically illiterate mind never lifted anyone out of poverty.

Regrettably, those who were already on the margins in our society are being pummeled by the reckless policies of progressives. And let’s be clear, there were plenty of Republicans in the progressive camp as well. Many supported stimulus spending and even lockdowns. Trump himself and many of his supporters even tried to have Representative Thomas Massie (R, KY) kicked out of the GOP when he stood against stimulus spending in 2020.

But saying “I told you so” doesn’t feel good when there are real lives on the line. This story is a heartbreaking one that represents countless children and parents going to bed hungry tonight.

As economist Murray Rothbard once said, “It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”

Those who waged economic war on the American people over the last two years need to stand down and let entrepreneurs and workers rebuild our ravaged economy.

AUTHOR

Hannah Cox

Hannah Cox is the Content Manager and Brand Ambassador for the Foundation for Economic Education.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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