Food Bank: Cost of food increases 15 percent in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Community Food Bank says the cost of food in the state has increased by 15 percent over the past two years, outpacing wage growth. (WJAR File Photo)

The Rhode Island Community Food Bank said the cost of food in the state has increased by 15 percent over the past two years, outpacing wage growth.

The food bank released its annual Status Report on Hunger to coincide with Thanksgiving week.

While the economy is thriving, the Food Bank is busier than ever, as the charity currently moves out food for 53,000 people each month.

CEO Andrew Schiff said more people are working, but many still can’t make ends meet.

According to the report, average wages rose just five percent, with the cost of food continuing to go up.

"They're working two and three jobs. They're bagging groceries. They're checking you out at your stores. They're working local and they still can't make ends meet, which is very sad," said Nicki Tyska, of the East Bay Food Pantry.

Healthier food like fruits and vegetables is among the most expensive to buy, costing almost 25 percent than it did two years ago. Tyska said demand at her food pantry for fresh produce is up 50 percet.

Food Bank officials said fixes to Rhode Island’s troubled DHS computer system appear to be taking hold. Last year at this time, the charity was seeing an increase in demand from families who had been cut off from SNAP benefits. This year, that demand has leveled off.

Schiff said officials are now keeping an eye on potential federal cuts in the food stamp program, as Congress debates $20 billion in cuts contained in farm legislation.

"What they decide now is going to affect Rhode Islanders for the next five years,” he said.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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