As we evaluate the Society of St. Vincent de Paul — Madison Food Pantry use month-by-month since 2019, we see a remarkable pattern. The 2019 line (blue) remained steady throughout the year. In 2020 (red) pantry use reflected the changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout its first year. In 2021 (yellow), as federal funds, particularly advance child tax credit and stimulus payments, became available to families, pantry use dropped significantly to lower than historical use throughout the year. Presumably more people had money to provide for their family’s food needs. In January 2022 (green), pantry use began where it left off the month before with an upward trend that in August more than doubled last year’s pantry visits.
A slight dip in September follows historical trends, likely due to the return of children to school where breakfast and lunch are available to them. October is traditionally our busiest month, and the six pantry days before Thanksgiving have been the busiest each year. We had a record-breaking day with 205 families on August 26 and eclipsed that record on September 29 with 215 families. Each Thursday in October set a new record. November is generally a busy month at the pantry, with the days before Thanksgiving the highest each year. Thursdays continued to be record-setting days through the Thursday before Thanksgiving becoming our now largest-ever day with 277 families. Instead of tailing off in December as has been our history, we served the most households in a single month than ever before, with 2568 households using the pantry that month.
January 2023 was our largest-ever month, even though there were no record-setting days. February had a slight dip, still far above even the high months of 2020, and likely had fewer visits due to the length of the month and three Thursdays (typically our busiest days) with blizzard-like conditions. March jumped to 2854 visits, the highest ever by more than 300 visits. This reflects the end of pandemic-era accelerated FoodShare benefits (SNAP) going back to pre-pandemic norms, a decrease in benefit of about $100 per person. April still exceeds 2450 visits for the month and reflects two fewer pantry days in April than in March, with an average of 153 visits per pantry day. June hit a new high with 2858 households served. The new “normal” over the spring and summer months has pantry visits landing between 2600-3000 per month.
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