The latest figures show that Phoenix is still the hardest-hit city with a 12.1 percent inflation rate. As a result, St. Mary's Food Bank, as one example, is seeing a daily lineup of hundreds of cars in three lanes around its local warehouse. In an average week, some 1,000 cars pass through the facility for food.
"Every time we thought we hit a peak, it continued to grow and here we are, in December," said Ken Pertis, president of what is the world's first food bank. "Across our whole network, we've seen a 26 percent increase in the number of people coming to us right, year over year."
Right now, Phoenix residents are having to shell out about 21.1 percent more for food and other goods compared to what they were paying at the end of 2020. This averages out to about $912 in additional spending per month for area residents.
One local named Desirea Lopez, 36, started getting food support at St. Mary's after her family's home rent increased another $25 to $1,450 per month. Turning down the lights and energy usage coupled with relying on St. Mary's for a little extra help is keeping Lopez's family fed.
"It's very important coming here because sometimes if I don't get the chance to come, then we start missing out on the meal," she said. "I won't eat. She'll eat first." (Related: Everything seems to be converging towards a global calamity, the likes of which has never before occurred in human history.)
The price of gas is also hitting families hard, though one bit of good news is that gas prices have subsided some since their all-time highs earlier this year. It remains to be seen what happens with gas and other prices in 2023.
The lines for food in the lead-up to Christmas at St. Mary's were not quite as hectic as the week before Thanksgiving when people were coming there in search of turkeys for their families, according to Pertis.
"It was probably three, four miles each way," he said about the Thanksgiving lines.
Many of the people who showed up for that holiday were first-time visitors who had never before used a food bank. This speaks volumes as to the dire state of the economy when people who were previously living just fine are suddenly finding themselves in poverty.
"They're not here because they want to be here but because they have nowhere else to turn," Pertis said. "It's the impact of the economic insecurity caused by inflation."
One of the reasons why Phoenix's inflation rate is substantially higher than that of the rest of the country has to do with its real estate market, according to Pertis.
"After COVID, we had the federal government putting money into the economy with stimulus packages and we had the Federal Reserve making borrowing almost nothing," he explained.
"That allowed a lot of investors to either move up in their homes or buy additional homes. Now that impact was more pronounced in the high growth areas that typically do well for investors."
Pertis also blamed lots of people moving to Arizona from other states, especially during COVID. He told the media that it helped drive up demand and thus prices.
"When they come here, the prices go up for everything," he stated.
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