Fuel And Food Prices Increases Food Bank's Need

We've all heard the phrase "pain at the pump," but now, it's starting to feel more like "pain at the fridge." As gas prices soar once again so is the price of that bag of groceries. And it's creating a ripple effect, right down to the 200,000 East Texans living in poverty.

A forklift at the East Texas Food Bank may not run on gas, but for each palette of food it moves, another truck gets loaded up and sent out to 26 East Texas counties.

"When the price goes up on gas, our expenses to do what we do everyday goes up," says the Food Bank's Executive Director Robert Bush.

According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of gas today is $3.04, compared to last year's $2.23.  That's an 81-cent increase.  And according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a gallon of milk, even more expensive than gas, costs an average of $3.79.  That's 50 cents more than last year.

"It's all related because everything comes in generally, and in East Texas in particular, through 18 wheelers ....it's hitting families very, very hard," Bush continues.

Families like Staci Martens who's husband lost his job after a heart attack.

"It's affecting us a lot.  We can't afford to buy milk because of the gas prices," she says.

So she's come to the Tyler Family Assistance Center to get those groceries she can't afford.

"It's bad, it's going to get a lot worse, I'm really worried about it," Staci adds.

That seems to be a recurring theme at the center.

"We have to go without food because we don't have any way to get to the food because of the gas prices," says Alice Johnson.

But as long as palettes of food at the East Texas Food Bank keep moving,  they say they'll continue to eat the cost, hoping no East Texan has to choose between food or gas again.

The Food Bank says it relies heavily on its donors to keep their warehouse stocked and to keep food on the shelves of the 200 East Texas agencies it serves.

Tracy Watler, Reporting tracy@kltv.com