COVID Increases Food Insecurity and Rises Prices: How to Navigate a COVID Grocery BudgetElla Nordell-Morris
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, grocery prices have continuously risen, leaving several people struggling with food insecurity. The price of many common goods has skyrocketed, causing panic and fear. This panic was seen at the very beginning of the pandemic when store shelves were stripped clean of everyday items. Many people did not know when they would be at the store next. As time continued, people’s fear and concerns shifted to the stagnant, high prices of food. Many of those struggling with a loss of income have less money than ever to cover the basics.
How did the rising prices occur?
Almost every food category saw an increase in price during the pandemic. The most affected categories were beef and veal, eggs, poultry, and pork. After the supply chains broke, and there was an increase in demand, the prices of these goods were severe. The meat industry began to struggle when many meat packing plants were closed due to coronavirus outbreaks. This caused them to scale back production or to shut down entirely, resulting in a strain on the supply chain. The strain on the supply chain is what created meat shortages for consumers.
For the egg and dairy industries, packaging became a huge problem. The demand for paper milk cartons decreased after schools were shut down. Because of this, the sole demand for plastic, gallon jugs of milk overwhelmed the dairy industry. Also, because restaurants were no longer buying eggs in bulk, there were not enough egg cartons to meet retail demand. The supply has not been able to adjust to the drastic changes in demand. This is the main reason why prices are high and many people are facing food insecurity.
Ways to manage food insecurity through budgeting:
Though some grocery prices have simmered down to pre-covid levels, there will be prices that continue to stay elevated as the United States recovers from this pandemic. During this time, many consumers are reevaluating their budgets. Rents and mortgages, electricity bills, medical expenses, and other monthly and daily obligations must be paid. These obligations require a food budget to remain fixed and consistent throughout the weeks.
- One way to keep your food budget consistent is preparing a grocery list before going to the store. This will help you plan out which items are on sale and will keep you from straying to other, more expensive items while shopping.
- Another way to keep your food budget consistent is to have multiple meal options. For example, your go-to meal may include beef. When you are shopping, beef prices might be higher than you expected. In this case, be prepared to change your meal plan to include a cheaper meat such as chicken.
- An additional way to keep your food budget consistent, if you are able, is to buy in bulk. Prices are usually lower with higher amounts, so this is a good way to stock up on essentials. It will also allow you to have food on hand in case prices rise.
- Finally, to keep your budget consistent, consider shopping with DineMarket. DineMarket is a great way to purchase your groceries online while monitoring costs and price trends so you can stay within budget.
Food insecurity has become a large spread issue for people around the globe. Purchasing the usual groceries has become challenging and stressful. As we begin to recover from these unprecedented circumstances, take time to reevaluate your budget and how you shop for groceries. This preparation will hopefully ease some of the current stress and help you feed yourself and your family.