CHICOPEE Mass. (WWLP) – From 2018 to 2020, the food insecurity rate increased from 8.9% to 14.2% in the state of Massachusetts, that’s the biggest percent change in the country.

People in our state were hit hard by the pandemic, but unfortunately it’s like a one-two punch, because now people are grappling with food insecurity due to inflation. Food banks in the area report a significant increase in the number of meals they provided during the pandemic and unfortunately with rising inflation, these numbers show no sign of falling.

Kristen McClintock, Executive Director at the Gray House Inc. said, “What’s affecting families now is inflation. So food prices, gas prices, rent prices… everything is going up and for most families, especially those who are low income or on a fixed income. The first thing to go is the food budget, they start slashing that and you can only slash so much before you are looking at empty cupboards. You’re telling your children, ‘I don’t have anything to give you for dinner.'”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture sees food prices rising as much as 9.5% this year, the most since 1979.

If you are looking to cut back on your grocery bill, some suggestions include meal planning, buying store brands and keeping an eye on deals.