Local nonprofit feeling the impacts of inflation

SOUTH BEND, Ind.—High-inflation brought on by the pandemic, has made it extremely difficult for many people and businesses to keep up with rising prices. This is also the case for non-profits, that heavily depend on help from other organizations, businesses and sponsorships.

“Really, essentially everything that we buy, what we spend money on, almost everything has gone up. Not slightly, pretty significantly,” Cultivate Food Rescue Director Jim Conklin said. “For a not-for-profit, you pass a budget and you plan for some inflation. Not this kind of inflation.”

For Cultivate Food Rescue in South Bend, an organization on a mission to combat food waste and help feed hungry families, inflation has affected everything, from hiring, to wages for workers, gas for transporting goods, and purchasing frozen vegetables.

Most recently, it had to increase its Backpack Program sponsorship cost for the very first time by 5%. This brings monthly costs from $35 a month, to $37.50 a month.

“We have to go to our donors and say ‘will you give a little bit more?’ And that’s really hard to do too because their disposable incomes are going down, because their groceries cost more money, their utility costs are higher, their gas in their car is more expensive,” Conklin said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between September of 2020 and September of 2021, goods and service costs for the average American went up by 5.4%.

In January, there was a 7.5% increase in prices in comparison to the year prior, making this the largest annualized growth in Consumer Price Index inflation since 1982.

Needless to say, everyone has been impacted by the spike, especially for families on the poverty line.

“I think the other thing that’s happening too for many of the families that we serve, is that a lot of the stimulus money is now gone. You know the stimulus checks, those have been used up. The monthly tax credits that were being paid out at a monthly basis to families, expanded EBT money as well, all of that’s starting to disappear and so they had this additional support that helped them to get by, that’s going away as prices are going up,” Conklin said.

While inflation has caused some negative impacts and cons to non-profits like Cultivate Food Rescue, there’s actually some unexpected pros too. Due to prices going up for things like meat and fruit, Cultivate Food Rescue is actually receiving more of these items than it normally does.

“We tend to rescue the perishable food items, the protein, the dairy, the vegetables, the fruit. Those are the most expensive part of our food budgets, right? So, in some ways it makes even more sense to what we are doing because those items just continue to be more and more expensive. Then the people who we serve, even those who work full time who are just barely getting by, to be able to give them the most expensive items on their food budget is very helpful.”

Despite the inflation-related obstacles and having to adjust, Director of Cultivate Food Rescue Jim Conklin says Cultivate couldn’t have gotten through it all, without the public’s help and generosity.

“It really comes down to a great community that we live in, great community members that say okay, it may hurt a little bit but I can afford to give a little bit more and we understand the things you’re facing.”

For more on how to lend a helping hand or become a Cultivate Food Rescue Donor, you can click here to learn more.

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