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Coronavirus causes a spike in price of groceries

“I still have children and elderly people to take care of.”

NEW ORLEANS — If it seems like your grocery bill is going up every time you go to the store, it is.

Food prices have skyrocketed during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

The higher grocery bill and the general downturn in the economy are sending more and more people to local food banks to feed their families. 

Thursday, Cher Michelle was one of hundreds of clients picking up groceries at Giving Hope NOLA in New Orleans East. 

“I lost more than half my income due to the businesses where my business is located have been shut down,” Michelle said. “I still have children and elderly people to take care of.” 

Giving Hope Executive Director Betty Thomas said the non-profit went from serving 3,300 households a month to 13,000 a month after the pandemic hit. 

“They can’t afford the prices in the grocery store,” Thomas said. “So, we’re serving somewhere around 200, 250 people a day.”

Food prices are also spiking, adding to the financial strain for many families. 

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, from February to June, meat and poultry prices rose nearly 11%. 

Egg prices shot up 10%. 

The price of cereals and fresh vegetables also jumped by about 4%. 

Janice Thomas from Chalmette said she’s turned to the food bank because it seems like she’s getting less and less groceries for her money. 

“It’s been really hard because if you go with $50 normally you can get a decent amount of things, but now $50 only buys you two or three items,” Thomas said. 

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Experts say the increase in food prices is due to a number of factors including supply and demand during the pandemic and the fact that people are buying more groceries these days to prepare meals at home. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the temporary closure of a number of meatpacking plants decreased the supply of meat products which eventually led to a steep rise in retail meat prices. 

Betty Thomas at Giving Hope had this advice for shoppers on a budget. 

“Buy what’s cheapest,” she said. “Some people will say that’s not nutritional. Yes it is. There’s nutritional foods out there that you can afford on a budget as opposed to eating expensive meats, what have you.” 

You should also check grocery store apps and advertising for the best deals.