Salem food pantry fights inflation, hunger after two-year hiatus

Stamp Out Hunger food drive returns this weekend

The higher prices are hurting everyone's bottom line lately.

SALEM, Va. – The shelves might look bare at the Salem/Roanoke County Food Pantry, but Executive Director Mickey Estienne is expecting thousands of pounds of donations this weekend.

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Stamp Out Hunger food drive returns this Saturday.

You can leave a bag of healthy, non-perishable food items by your mailbox and United States Postal Service workers will take them to a food pantry near you.

“This is a big thing for food banks, food pantries throughout the country,” said Estienne.

In Salem, all the donations from the community stay there.

If you’ve been to the grocery store lately, you’ve probably noticed that the price of just about everything has skyrocketed: from meat to juice, pasta sauce and baby formula. The high prices are making it difficult for families to fill the fridge and more expensive for the pantry to stock its shelves.

“It affects me because if I don’t have an item on the shelf, then I have to go out and buy that item. And I see it when I’m walking the aisles shopping. You know, I notice ‘Hey, that went up 30 cents.’ And 30 cents might not mean a lot to some people, but when you’re buying the quantity that we’re buying, then it does start adding up,” said Estienne.

The food pantry serves 300 people a month. Roger Crews is one of the 35-40 volunteers who help make it all possible. He says his own grocery bill has nearly doubled.

“It’s just mind-blowing,” said Crews.

Estienne said business at the pantry is good, but that’s not a good thing. Nevertheless, he’s glad they’re here to help.

“The bottom line is hungry people are hungry people,” said Estienne. “Families are in need and we want to help any way we can.”

Stamp Out Hunger organizers ask that families avoid donating glass containers.

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You can watch Lindsey during Virginia Today every weekend or as a reporter during the week!