High cost of groceries sends Long Island families to food banks

When it comes to the cost of food at the supermarket, the holiday season is hitting households a lot harder this year.

Grocery prices climbed about 13% over the past year with certain items, including meat, eggs and butter, even higher.

"The reality is, the cost of food has at least doubled now in supermarkets so families have no choice but to cut back," said Jessica Rosati, the chief program officer of Long Island Cares. 

Long Island Cares and Island Harvest Food Bank said inflation and the cost of food is driving people to the food banks.

"I have a location in Freeport that sees over 100 families a day," Rosati said. 

Long Island food banks distribute an estimated 20 million pounds of food from Nassau to Suffolk each year. 

"I don't think there's any community in the United States that doesn't have people from one time or another have a need for food," Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said. 

Nassau County is holding an End Hunger Celebration on the eve of Thanksgiving. Local pantries are collecting nonperishable food and frozen turkeys between now and then.

"We live in a community where there's more food than is needed but that food is not being spread to the people that really need the help," Island Harvest CEO Randi Shubin Dresner said.  

Findings from a food insecurity study done by Long Island Cares reveal the most common answer as to why people use their food banks was because of under of unemployment and the household income for the majority of respondents was less than $25,500.

"If you were already struggling to make ends meet and now it costs you $20 to $40 extra at the gas pump and $20 to $40 at the supermarket store — where's the extra money coming from?" Shubin Dresner said. 

On average, a $35 donation to a nonprofit feed a family of four on Thanksgiving.