My wife dispatched me to the grocery store last week to pick up a dozen eggs while she was busy making Christmas cookies and other holiday treats. I happily obliged, since I’m often the beneficiary of her baking skills, but I was taken aback when I got to the egg case and saw half empty shelves and prices that were about three times higher than normal.

The prices were so jarring that the store manager taped a sign to the display case saying something about supply chain disruptions and emphasizing that they’re doing all they can to keep prices affordable. There are a lot of reasons behind the high egg prices, including outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) that have returned in recent months affecting egg farms in Iowa and other states. The USDA reports that 39.4 million table-egg layers have been lost to HPAI since February.

I picked out a carton of eggs, and felt fortunate that I could afford to pay a couple of extra dollars to keep our holiday traditions alive.

I was reminded a few days later that many people don’t have that privilege. Food banks report that requests for assistance are nearly five times greater than an average year as families struggle with the impacts of soaring inflation.

At this time of year, they need help more than ever to make sure families have enough food on their table at Christmas and into the new year. Food security isn’t one of those far-off problems that we only see on TV – it’s happening right here in communities across Iowa.

The Iowa Farm Bureau made a $100,000 donation to the Iowa Food Bank Association last week, which will provide a least half a million meals to Iowans struggling with hunger.

Food bank officials report that there is also a critical need for volunteers to stock shelves, prepare food and package meals.

“This rise for assistance has significantly strained our resources – both in terms of donations and volunteers –and the demand for food continues to rise in every corner of the state,” said Linda Gorkow, executive director, Iowa Food Bank Association.

If you’re able, I encourage you to consider making a donation or volunteering at your local food bank during this holiday season to make Christmas a little merrier for a family in need.

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