Drought drying up supplies for area food banks

(FOX19) - This summer's drought is not only affecting your cooling bill, but your food budget as well.

Recent federal figures indicate retail prices for all food will increase up to 3.5% this year and again next year.

Corn prices are driving the price hike in particular, spiking almost 23% last month.

The U.S. produces more corn than any other country.

The agriculture department says more than half of all U.S. counties are disaster zones.

Not only is the dry weather driving up prices, but it's dropping the food supply that helps feed the nation's hungry.

An entire section of the Shared Harvest food bank should be stocked with fresh produce like onions and carrots and apples, but those commodities are in short supply because of the drought.

Tina Osso with Shared Harvest says fresh produce supplies are drying up. "The million and a half pounds of fresh produce that we distribute happens between now and the end of the year and that's not going to happen this year".

Osso says that's a big bite out of the 6 million pounds of food the Fairfield non-profit distributes to soup kitchens, food pantries and shelters in a five county area.

To make matters worse, Osso says surplus from the USDA is also drying up. "As time goes on and the effects of the climate on our crops we're going to be seeing more and more loads from USDA canceled and that really is the mainstay of charitable food distribution".

Shared Harvest supplies the food pantry in Fairfield where manager Diane Rayer says the demand just keeps growing. "About 25% of our customers every week are new. July was a record month with 171 families served in just this area".

Rayer says supplies from the food bank are being stretched thinner and thinner. "Our poundage went down from about 1800 pounds last month to about 1200 pounds this month".

Shortages are being felt at even the larger agencies like the Freestore Foodbank, according to CEO Kurt Reiber. "The drought has not only impacted our ability to source that product, but also the cost of that food has risen quite dramatically".

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