Food prices are up 3.3% from last year and expected to go up more through the end of the year. The situation is hurting small businesses and food banks.
SEDRO-WOOLLEY, Wash. — Food prices across the country are going up and it’s having a ripple effect in western Washington.
Connie Weech restocked her restaurant Monday for the week ahead. It’s one more week of the unknown after more than a year of living in survival mode.
“It is exhausting,” she said. “It’s pretty tiring.”
Weech’s Magnolia Grill in Sedro-Woolley made it through the pandemic and was just starting to make money again when food prices started rising over the past month.
Some necessities like cooking oil have skyrocketed nearly 400%. Weech’s signature steaks are up 60%. “I just looked today and it went up another dollar per pound,” Weech said. “I just went, ‘Noooo!'”
It was another day and another dollar more she’s had to spend. The situation has forced Weech to raise her restaurant prices.
Sandwiches on her menu now cost $2 more than a few months ago, and that worries her.
“I’m afraid we will be out-pricing ourselves,” she said. “The locals are trying to support us, but they can only take so much. They’re hurting, too”
Food prices are rising across the board, up 3.3% from last year. Leading the way is seafood, which is up nearly 20%. Prices are expected to rise another 1% to 2% through the end of 2021. At that point, prices are predicted to stabilize or even go down.
The reasons for the rise are many, including increasing gas prices to transport food and greater demand over the past year with more people eating at home.
Skagit County’s Helping Hand Food Bank has given out more than eight million meals over the past year. Their numbers had finally plateaued but with food prices rising, people are starting to return.
There were an additional 500 families in need of assistance over the past week alone.
With gasoline, appliance, car and many other prices now on the rise people aren’t donating as much to the food bank.
“We’re seeing lower donations but an increase of people in need,” said Helping Hands Executive Director Rebecca Skrinde. “So, that’s kind of the vicious cycle that you’re seeing.”
Like so many of us, Weech thought we’d be out of this situation by this point, but she’s now bracing for more difficult months ahead.
“You just stop up one hole in the dam and then two more happen,” she said. “I just keep trying to stop up the holes.”