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More people utilize food banks as grocery prices rise

The U.S. is experiencing record high inflation, and groceries are no exception.

AUGUSTA, Maine — As the U.S. faces the effects of a 9.1 percent inflation rate, more and more people are doing what they can to make ends meet.

"I was laid off in December," Sebrina Reynolds said.

She has been using the Augusta Food Pantry for a few months and calls it a "blessing."

Reynolds also said she has seen an increase in the number of cars coming to the food bank, especially now that things are becoming more and more expensive.

Bob Moore, the executive director of the food bank, said he and his team are seeing that increase, too, specifically on Thursdays when it's open to the public, rather than appointment only on Monday through Wednesday.

"When we started it was probably 35 to 40. It hovered around 60 a year or so ago, but we're noticing now it's hovering around 75 to 85," Moore said.

The folks who are using these resources run the gamut. Some, like Reynolds, have been out out of work. Others, like Cynthia Estabrook, are on a fixed income.

"Food is so expensive, and it really helps a lot," Estabrook said.

She said she's concerned essentials are going to become more expensive.

"Stuff that you really need, you know, toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, all that stuff," Estabrook added.

The Augusta food bank said it has seen a 67 percent increase in clients in the past two years. Good Shepherd Food Bank works with the Augusta Food Bank. But it's not just food prices that are bringing people to food banks across the state.

"[It's] also the increase in gas prices, so there's competing resources for this discretionary spending. It's really not. It's necessary spending," Dawn DiFiore of Good Shepherd said.

Food bank leaders want to remind people that even as food prices rise, they are still committed to helping people who are struggling.

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