A line of cars is seen outside the Community Food Pantry of St. Joseph County on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021 in South Bend. Staff photo by Robert Franklin
A line of cars is seen outside the Community Food Pantry of St. Joseph County on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021 in South Bend. Staff photo by Robert Franklin

SOUTH BEND — It's a food distribution day at the Community Food Pantry of St. Joseph County, and cars are lined up dozens deep, snaking out along United Drive and then Scott Street. 

The expected wait is more than an hour to reach the garage door at the pantry where volunteers are scurrying about filling orders for mostly non-perishable food items that will be delivered to the awaiting vehicles.

Anonymity is important to those in the vehicles; no one likes to admit they’re down on their luck. Trunk lids click open inside the parking lot, food is loaded in by volunteers and cars move off with more in line to take their place.

It’s been like this since the pandemic got underway in March 2020.  

And officials are concerned it could get worse with inflation running around 6% for the 12 months ending Oct. 31. Consumers already are paying more for food, gas and other necessities, and experts predict that winter heating bills also will be going up because of higher prices for natural gas. 

More: Inflation takes a bite out of Thanksgiving dinner

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