FORT PIERCE, Fla. — New numbers out this week from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show the price of groceries continues to climb, making it harder for families to keep their refrigerators full.
That's why the opening of a new food pantry for the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County could not have come at a better time.
GL Homes made a $20,000 donation to the Chuck Hill club location in Port St. Lucie, helping provide shelving, refrigeration and groceries to set the pantry off to a good start.
"This is unique. No other Boys & Girls Clubs in St. Lucie County has a food pantry, and GL Homes hopes other donors, other companies will step up to be able to provide funding to create a food pantry [for other club locations]," Sarah Alsofrom, senior director of community relations for GL Homes, said.
The pantry also gives club youth members a taste of what it's like to run a small business, keeping inventory and cycling out old items.
"This will provide thousands of meals for the over 120 children who attend the Boys & Girls Club here and for their family, so you're talking 500 people that will have food for the next six months," Alsofrom said. "No one can focus, learn or grow on an empty belly."
Pamela Welmon, chief operating officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County, said children will not always tell you they're hungry or that they skipped a meal, but their team can often notice a difference.
"You can tell generally if little Tommy is acting out a bit more than usual," Welmon said. "In talking with them, they'll let you know they're hungry."
She said not all, but many families they serve are low-income. The pantry will help supplement groceries club members need to get through the week or month.
It also provides some of the groceries that are most expensive at stores right now.
The latest report shows the cost for eggs is up more than 39%. Dairy is up overall more than 16%. Fruits and vegetables are up more than 9%.
"I watched that inflation report as well and I'm like, 'Oh my God.' I dread that next trip to the grocery store because I know the price is going to be higher than they were the last time I went," Isaac Jones, a father who has put all three of his children through the Boys & Girls Clubs, said.
He said he notices the price increases, which is why he buys in bulk, and isn't splurging for "luxury items" like steak, shrimp and lobster. He keeps a close tab on the grocery budget.
"I've always been that way, but the price increase has made me even more attentive," Jones said.
As prices stay high, he knows the pantry will be beneficial for families he sees pinching pennies to put food on the table.
"It's truly a blessing in our community," Jones said.