For the past three years, Theol Isaacs has relied on the Kearsarge Area Food Pantry to help feed his family.

"Times are tough with a struggling economy and everything else," said Isaacs.  "I'm just trying to get back on my feet."

Located inside of the Abiding Hope Church, the pantry partners with the Second Harvest Food Bank to help feed 60 families, twice a month.

"It's a huge need," said Keasarge Area Food Pantry Assistant Director Cheryl Filley.  "I mean the food insecurity, you would think it's not in Erie, the city of Erie, but it is, just in the outlying areas.  It's just unbelievable."

Over the past year, the need for assistance has skyrocketed.

Since 2019, the Second Harvest Food Bank has seen an 89 percent increase in food costs.

During the same time, the amount of people seeking food assistance in Erie County, has increased by 31.5 percent.

"It is very alarming considering the fact that food costs continue to rise," said Second Harvest Food Bank Advocacy Coordinator Celeste Makay.  "It remains high, and there's no signs of it going down, so we are tasked with feeding more people with less resources."

The high cost of food is also impacting the food bank's partnering pantries.

"It's been unbelievable," said Filley.  "The prices.  A two dollar difference for eggs, for example, between two stores.  It's ridiculous."

While donations are a lifeline for the Second Harvest Food Bank, the organization is calling on Congress to do more to address the issue.

"We are asking Congress to support a strong Farm Bill that not only benefits farmers, but also strengthens our charitable food network and that can be done through the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as well."
In the meantime, the food bank will continue its mission of helping families like Theol's.

"You've got to have food on the table for children," said Isaacs.  "It's important."