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'Food scarcity is an absolute problem.' High prices affecting metro Detroiters and food banks

Posted at 9:51 AM, May 19, 2024

(WXYZ) — It is no secret that food prices have increased substantially since the pandemic. The problem, according to one Detroit woman, is they are still rising.

“Until Sunday, I didn’t even have nothing,” said Miller."I never have not had nothing in my freezer or refrigerator ... nothing," said Marilyn Miller.

Miller came to tears while she told me the struggle she has with keeping food on her table.

She said the increasing prices with the cost of living have put the squeeze on her wallet—and yes, that means groceries too, she says.

Miller lives off $1,900 a month in social security, and the $23 she gets in food stamps.

By the time she's done paying her bills: “I have $300 a month,” she says.

Miller said despite being on a fixed income she still has to pay rent, lights, gas, phone bill and all the bills anyone would pay to just have basic survival. She said she doesn’t have money either in case of an emergency.

And sadly, Miller is not alone in this struggle.

Food banks are now reporting that the demand for help is at record levels — a lot of that has to do with inflation.

Miller said going to food banks are helpful, but since she turned her car in because she couldn’t afford it, she hasn’t been able to go there either.

I wanted to get a closer look at the need. So I talked to Ralph Godbee, chief of staff at Triumph Church.

“Thought it would have subsided after the pandemic started to normalize," said Godbee.

But it hasn’t, he said.

Godbee said he sees the struggles people are facing and he credits it to inflation.

"The cost of living is going up in the metro Detroit area,” he said. "And wages are not going up commensurate with that."

And so, Godbee's church continues to give away food every first and third Friday through their partnership with Forgotten Harvest.

I also spoke with Max Nicklas, the director of distribution for the food bank at Forgotten Harvest to see if they too have seen an increase in food demand.

"Food scarcity is an absolute problem in our community,” said Nicklas. "And we have actually seen an uptick by 30% overall."

Meantime , for Miller, the struggle continues. She said Mother's Day was her first time going grocery shopping in months. Miller said her granddaughter surprised her on Mother's Day and took her shopping once she realized there was no food in her grandmother's refrigerator.

“I just went to the store the other day” said Miller. "I hadn’t been to the store in two months because I ain't have no money."

If you'd like to make a donation to Forgotten Harvest, click here.