‘Never been this low’: Local food banks plagued by empty shelves

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. – At any given time, most food banks are full to the brim. But that’s not the case these days. 

Inflation, supply chain issues and sky-high gas prices have made the American dream a lot more expensive. 

The shelves at Spokane Valley Partners are empty. The team there says it’s “scary,” not just for those who work there, but for the families in our community who are needing food like never before. 

“I’ve been here five years and our warehouse has never been this low,” said CEO Cal Coblentz. 

Even during the pandemic, things looked a lot different. 

“You know, we were renting out two additional warehouses. They were full and we were flowing out food,” Coblentz said. “We’re seeing families that have never used a food bank before come ask for help.”

An even bigger burden on families is expected heading into the summer months. 

“That complicates things for families when kids have their free breakfast and lunch at school and then summer, mom and dad have to provide that,” Coblentz said. 

The one silver lining is more produce coming into the food bank. 

“For us, it’s growing season. Home gardens are coming in. We’re going to get a lot more fresh produce through the summer, but that’s a very temporary relief for us,” Coblentz explained. “Buying food is a problem. We have money to buy food, it’s difficult – the supply chain – to buy palletized orders of food.” 

Coblentz said these are desperate times and the future is uncertain for families in need. 

Anyone with extra pantry staples on hand is encouraged to bring them to the nearest food bank. Those efforts could make the world of difference for local families.