Rising Food Costs Lead More People To Food Banks

Food prices are rising across the board these days. Over in InvestorCentric, Eric wrote earlier about the rising price of corn, which recently surpassed $6 per bushel--a record. But it's not just the price of corn that's going up: Food prices are rising across the board and around the globe.

"Cost increases are affecting most countries around the globe, with prices for dairy products up 80 percent, cooking oils up 50 percent, and grains up 42 percent from 2006 to 2007," according to Slate.

"At $1.32, the average price of a loaf of bread has increased 32 percent since January 2005. In the last year alone, the average price of carton of eggs has increased almost 50 percent," according to a recent MSNBC article.

"Ground beef, milk, chicken, apples, tomatoes, lettuce, coffee and orange juice are among the staples that cost more these days, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics," the MSNBC article said.

"A 12-ounce can of frozen, concentrated orange juice now averages $2.53 — a 67-cent increase in just two years," according to the article. "And a carton of grade A, large eggs will set you back $2.17. That's an increase of nearly $1 since February 2006."

What's behind the huge food price increases?

The rising energy costs taking bigger chunks out of consumers' wallets are one culprit. Rising energy costs are contributing to a secondary cause of the price increases: Increased interest in biofuels, such as corn-based ethanol.

"In 2006, 14 percent of the total corn crop in the United States was converted into ethanol; by 2010, that figure will rise to 30 percent. When the production of corn intended for human or animal consumption decreases, prices go up," according to Slate.

Finally, weather is an issue. Inclement weather has negatively affected the Corn Belt and Australia has experienced a draught while Argentina has experienced flooding. These weather conditions have all decreased harvests and exports.

The rising prices are leading to another increase: An increase in the number of people going to food banks.

"Nationwide, a family of four on a moderate-cost shopping plan now spends an average of $904 each month for groceries, an $80 increase from two years ago, according to the USDA," according to the MSNBC article.

"America's Harvest, which distributes nearly 2 billion pounds of food and grocery products each year to more than 200 food banks across the country, estimates that its overall client load increased by 20 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007," according to the article.

With costs of necessities rapidly increasing, times are tough for a lot of people. So I encourage everyone who can spare a little--investors, I'm talking to you--to make a donation to their local food bank.

Next week, I will set aside the money I usually spend on my daily Grande soy blueberry misto, no water, poured over lots of ice (yes, I have seen When Harry Met Sally, and no, I am not quite as picky as Sally) and instead, buy food to donate to a local food bank.

If you make a donation, large or small, I'd love to hear about it!

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