The Gift of Giving

According to the Associated Press, on Nov. 10, the Labor Department said that prices for U.S. consumers jumped 6.2% in October compared to last year, leaving families facing their highest inflation rate since 1990.

As reported by the Associated Press, the spike in prices has been fueled due to high consumer demand during the pandemic. However, this process has run into persistent supply shortages from Covid-19-related factory shutdowns in China, Vietnam and other overseas manufacturers.

Some professors, such as Dr. Stephen Rubb, a professor of economics, believe that the federal reserve has printed too much money.

“If governments print too much money, it is going to lead to inflation,” said Rubb. “The federal reserve increased the money supply to try and get us back to normal and that has been extremely excessive, which leads to a situation where there is too much money and too few goods.”

Some students have already been feeling some of the effects of the inflation rate, especially at the gas pump.

“I noticed a couple of weeks ago that gas prices jumped to $3.47, but more recently I was driving around and it was $3.67,” said sophomore Ally Plante. “It’s crazy.”

Not only does this inflation rate affect people across the nation, but it also puts an additional strain on those with a low-economic standing.

According to the Associated Press, the accelerating price increases have fallen disproportionately on lower-earning households, which spend a portion of their income on food, rent and gas.

“When you start seeing double-digit price increases, it is problematic,” said Rubb. “Suddenly, your gas prices and heating costs go up, which hurts lower-income households.”

Reverend Sara Smith, esq., senior minister at the United Congregational Church of Bridgeport and Protestant chaplain at Sacred Heart, is the president/CEO and founder of nOURish Bridgeport Inc., which provides direct service programs to those in need throughout Bridgeport.

“We never closed during the pandemic,” said Smith. “During the first months, I would do everything. I was making all the bags myself, but we kept feeding as many people as we could. A lot of people lost their jobs and suddenly people who never had to use a food pantry before showed up.”

“Our numbers tripled overnight; we went from serving 100 families to 300 families, which is about 1,500 individuals,” she said. “I felt like the little bit we did kept the economy going. If we gave them groceries, they paid their rent or their car payment that month, but now that we are having less families come, it shows that some people are getting back up and are going to be okay.”

According to the Associated Press, Americans are spending 15% more on goods than before the pandemic, but ports, trucking companies and railroads can’t keep up, resulting in the inflating prices.

President Biden recently visited the port of Baltimore to highlight parts of the recently passed infrastructure package that will upgrade capacity at ports, unclog capacity at ports and help reduce inflation.

However, food banks around the country are still struggling to give people food, especially in time for the holidays.

“Food pantries are dependent on the food bank as we are last part of the food supply chain, and during Covid-19, they didn’t have any food,” said Smith. “We had to raise more money to do not only what we were doing with the increase in need, but do it similarly to the way we did before and not cut back what we gave people.”

“Everything is more expensive now and we had to depend on people’s generosity and create our own supply chain to keep up with the demand,” she said.

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