Rising prices a concern for many families; a helping hand can make things better

Published 2:07 pm Friday, February 4, 2022

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Rising inflation is a concern for many families. There has been a spike in prices for everyday items like food and gas over the past few months — a change that is forcing many families to reevaluate their budgets and become extra cautious of their spending.
The December consumer price index, which measures changes in the cost of food, housing, gasoline, utilities, and other goods, rose by 7% over the last 12 months — the largest inflation surge in 40 years.
In addition to gasoline prices, the rising cost of meat and other grocery staples is forcing most families to change their weekly grocery planning.
Inflation is hitting everywhere, but low-income households are feeling the pinch even more, especially as wage increases for many workers fail to keep up with inflation. Higher prices for consumer goods mean less discretionary spending for families with lower incomes, but it also means many families are having to shift their budgets just to cover their basic necessities.
What’s driving the increased prices? According to economists, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a shock to the world economy, which has trickled down to everyone. It has disrupted supply chains and contributed to major delays in shipping. Labor shortages and surging consumer demand have only exacerbated the problem. With many items in short supply and the cost of shipping going up, prices are increasing.
There are signs of the growing problem everywhere — signs outside businesses advertise for help. Almost every grocery store, fast food business, and restaurant is advertising for workers. Health care workers are needed for nursing homes and hospitals.
Take a trip to the grocery store, and you will notice empty shelves and missing name brand items. And, there will be a hefty increase in your purchase price.
The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows gasoline alone is up 58.1 percent, and energy prices are up 33.3 percent over the last year. Food prices have also increased by 6.1 percent year over year. Within the food category, meat, poultry, fish and eggs collectively are up 12.8 percent.
Times are hard for many families, even though a large amount of food is given free each month by local groups such as ARM, Hale’s Ministry, and various churches and organizations. Hard times can bring out the best in people.
During these tough times pay attention to the people around you and what you can do to make their lives a little easier. An act of kindness, any simple gesture, can improve someone’s day. Check in on an elderly neighbor or bring dinner to someone who has been facing illness or a tough time. Call a friend to see how they are doing especially if they’ve had COVID or the flu.
Check with your local school, see if they need substitute teachers. If you are eligible, make time in your schedule to teach. If you can’t teach, volunteer at a local school, help at a local food bank. Offer assistance at the local animal shelter or a nursing home. Reach out to the local library and your church to see if there is someone in need.
If you have cans of food you aren’t going to use, donate them. If you can’t donate food or money, donate blood as it is badly needed.
And, finally be thankful if your needs are being met. You are blessed.
We all can help a little bit to make times better for someone around us if we just try.

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