Opinion: Nevada to face prolonged food shortages

Toni Koraza

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In March 2020, shoppers in Nevada saw empty supermarket shelves for the first time in the past two decades. Today, only two years later, we're facing a strong possibility of prolonged food shortages in Nevada.

The threat of COVID-19 prompted Nevada residents to stock up while a pandemic slowed the supply chain. Shortages have continued, and prices are rising amid food insecurity issues.

Today, the issues are even more complex. The food supply chain has been disrupted by a magnitude of factors that only build on previous issues of the pandemic. Starting with the lack of essential workers to poor infrastructure, and all the way to a volatile economy and the war in Europe. Our food resources are under extensive pressure.

And Nevada could again see its supermarkets running on empty.

The food shortages in Nevada

Shortages and rising prices are only exacerbating food insecurity in Nevada.

The only food bank in Southern Nevada is still distributing about 5.5 million pounds of food every month, up from 4.2 million in May 2019, showing that the state has not fully recovered from the pandemic and its aftermath.

A missed paycheck can result in some Nevada residents being hungry. More than 373,000 Nevadans – over 12.5 percent of the population – are food insecure. That includes more than 16 percent of the state’s children.

Drought may be a problem, but Nevadans also face stagnant wages and rising food prices.

Food prices have increased in the past five years

In Nevada, a family will spend an average of $9,990 on food this year, making the state the 18th most expensive place in the U.S. to buy groceries.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, food prices are higher than average in Nevada, but paychecks are not. The average Nevada household income is $74,077, below the national average of $80,069.

Prices of restaurant food have been on the rise since 2017, but all food prices have been going up. This year, all food prices are predicted to increase by 7.5 to 8.5 percent.

Are you worried about the rising food costs and potential shortages?

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