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Boca Helping Hands seeing increased demand for food due to inflation

'We are handing out somewhere around 9,500 bags every month,' Greg Hazle says
Posted at 5:53 PM, Jul 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-18 18:45:23-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., cars are lining up at Boca Helping Hands.

Drivers inch forward in the organizations drive through food line ready to accept a bag of food.

"We give them a pantry bag and we give them a box," Mariebel Torres said. "So, the box has meat, a produce and some miscellaneous stuff. And then the pantry bag is the non-perishable items."

Torres is the coordinator. She said their numbers spiked, because of COVID and eventually died down. Now, Torres said there's inflation.

"So, our numbers now they're going back up," she said. "They used to be steady 150, 160, and now we're seeing 180, 200, and passing the 200 per day."

Mariebel Torres Boca Helping Hands coordinator July 18 2023.jpg
Boca Helping Hands Coordinator Mariebel Torres shares how many cars they see on a daily basis now due to inflation.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a non-profit think tank, a family of four in Florida could expect to spend an average of $10,385 on food in 2022, at the time the 12th highest amount among states. Add in our current inflation issue and things have gotten worse.

"We are handing out somewhere around 9,500 bags every month between here and the other four locations, where we distribute bags," Boca Helping Hands Executive Director Greg Hazle said. "It is up approximately 40% from this same time last year. And we attribute that to inflation."

Boca Helping Hands Executive Director Greg Hazle July 18 2023.jpg
Boca Helping Hands Executive Director Greg Hazle explains that it's mainly families coming to get food.

He said the folks they're seeing are the working poor.

"It's mainly families, OK? It's families of different sizes," he said.

Hazle said in 2022 Boca Helping Hands had a budget crisis, because they were forced to purchase up to 20% of the food they distribute.

He said contributions from the community are vital to feeding those in need.