We’re starting to see store shelves emptying at a stunning pace once again, and millions of Americans are becoming increasingly frustrated because they can’t get their hands on needed supplies. Many people blame “hoarders” for the current mess, but the truth is that this problem is much more complicated than it seems. (continued below video)
All of a sudden, our grocery stores are being flooded with unexpected traffic, and many people are buying far more than usual in anticipation of coming shortages. However, our food distribution systems were not designed to handle this sort of demand surge, and things are really starting to get crazy out there. With vast stretches of the food industry facing shortages, normal economic activity has come to a standstill, and it is going to become increasingly difficult for our warehouses to meet the demand that grocery stores are putting on them. At the same time, our farmers are facing critical problems of their own. A recent CNBC report reveals that “a blistering heat wave has stunted crop growth in the Midwest. Now, the U.S. food supply chain is dealing with another blow to a vulnerable farm economy, sending crop and livestock prices to soar and raising concerns about worsening labor shortages.” Iowa farmer Robb Ewoldt told reporter Emma Newburger that “we’ve stopped saying it can’t get worse”, and he says that the ongoing food system breakdown looks like it could be “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. Of course, this comes at a time when the economy is entering another historic downturn and unemployment rates are ticking back up. Without any money coming in, many people are already turning to alternative sources of help in order to feed themselves and their families. With inflation at a 40-year high, many are looking for aid for the first time and food banks are already struggling to meet demand. A Fox News report uncovered that hundreds of families were lined up in cars outside St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix, Arizona, last week. The food bank said its main distribution center provided packages to 4,271 families during the third week in June. That number marks a nearly 80% increase over the same week in 2021. Distribution by California’s Alameda County Community Food Bank has also risen this summer and Texas’ Houston Food Bank now gives out an average of 610,000 pounds. In Southern California, the Los Angeles bank gave away around 30 million pounds of food during the first three months of this year, far more than the 22 million pounds passed out during the first quarter of 2020. And it is also being reported that the number of people coming for free meals on Skid Row in Los Angeles has tripled since the same time last year. Sadly, this is only the tip of the iceberg of what we will see in the months ahead. Food is only going to get more expensive from here on out, and supply chain disruptions are only going to make our food systems more vulnerable. An Urban Institute survey found that 1 in 6 adults relied on charitable food, a share that was still above pre-pandemic levels. Low-income households feel rising prices the most because they spend a far greater share of their income on necessities. Food alone makes up nearly a third of their budget, on average. Desperate people have been running to the grocery stores to stock up on essential supplies only to find that purchasing limits are being put back in place. A new “panic buying” wave is emerging on the horizon, and it is probably only a matter of time before many stores start running out of food staples. We have reached a major turning point in our history, and things are only going to get crazier.