A third of families say rising food costs leads to kids not eating enough

Raleigh, North Carolina — Prices of all commodities are starting to rise and people are feeling it in the final stages of budgeting.

“It’s hitting our pockets the hardest right now,” said Christina Warren, a mother of three children aged 12 to 15.

She says grocery bills for her family of five have skyrocketed. It used to be around $400, now it’s up to $800 a month. She says she’s starting to dread going grocery shopping.

“I can afford to go to the grocery store and oh my god what did you spend that money on!” she cried.

She says she is critical of what they are spending right now. I stopped.

I’ve also changed some habits, like eating out less often.

“We’re trying to find that right balance,” Warren said.

All because they can afford food.

But data shows that many families across the state struggle to do that. About one in three households in her state reported that their children were not getting enough to eat because of the price of food. This is according to the latest household pulse survey.

During the same period in North Carolina, black families made up nearly half of the respondents who reported their children were not eating enough because they had no money.

Tamara Baker of UNC’s Carolina Hunger Initiative told WRAL: “It affects their social-emotional learning. It affects their ability to take that test that day. So why don’t we, as a society, value food? It’s an issue that’s been plaguing us, but it’s really been highlighted during COVID.”

The proportion of states reporting food inaccessibility is higher than the national rate.

About 1.5 million people in North Carolina were food insecure last year, one-fifth of them children, according to the nonprofit Feeding America. With all costs going up, it’s almost certain to be even more expensive now.

“Your rent is a fixed item that you have to pay,” Melvin Acosta told Interface Food Shuttle. “Mortgage is a fixed item. Utilities are also a fixed item. As you can see, one of the things that fluctuates is food costs.”

The WRAL data tracker looked at consumer price indices for simple, typical children’s lunch items such as cheese, bread, cookies, milk, and bananas. A year ago, these items cost $13.34 at the grocery store and are now $16.46. 23% higher than $3 up.

Warren estimates that his monthly spending on groceries has doubled in a year, despite eliminating some items. And she does a little more to make ends meet and keep her children fed.

“You just have to plan what you eat for the week and what you can eat multiple times. You just buy a ton of items,” Warren said. We are doing away with a lot of things.”

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