Inflation is impacting Alabama’s food banks this Thanksgiving

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) – As many prepare for their Thanksgiving holiday, inflation has made it difficult for some Alabamaans to put a turkey or anything else on the table. A few panels in the area still make the holiday special for those in need.

The Montgomery Area Food Bank serves 35 counties and distributes millions of pounds of groceries to over 200 state agencies each year.

Their warehouse is filled to the ceiling with donations. However, they pay out of pocket for turkeys every Thanksgiving, which has been more difficult this year.

“There was a lot of bird flu going around, so there weren’t a lot of turkeys available, and when there were any, they were almost double what they were before,” said CEO Michael Coleman.

Coleman says they still found ways to make tomorrow’s meal special.

“Sometimes we have to look at alternatives like whole chickens or ham or things like that to try to get protein into the family distribution,” Coleman said. “So we get as much as we can for turkeys at this time of year, but sometimes you have to stick to plan B.”

The Montgomery Baptist Association is one of the food bank’s affiliates, delivering food to area churches.

Jeremy Lynch runs the association’s mobile pantry — a renovated school bus outfitted to bring groceries to families every weekend.

“We knew times were tough during COVID and then we continued to see that the need is constant. It didn’t go down. It’s about the same if not increasing,” Lynch said.

Dewayne Rembert, senior pastor at Flatline Church in Chisholm, sees inflation hit his congregation every day.

“It hit her hard. They were struggling when prices weren’t too bad, and when prices went up it got even more difficult,” Rembert said. “We need the board to help our community.”

Barbara Higbe also helps with food distribution as Food Ministry Coordinator at Taylor Road Baptist Church. She says at last weekend’s distribution, each family went home with something to make their Thanksgiving day a little brighter.

“We just don’t always have enough for everyone. But this year we had enough turkey, chicken and ham for everyone to have a piece of holiday meat,” said Higbe.

The food bank has been serving the community since 1986. Coleman says they’re always looking for donations, more volunteers, or people to start an agency in their community. You can go to their website to find out more.