Women, who make up the bulk of low-wage workers and are the majority of both paid and unpaid caregivers, are feeling the impact of inflation in all aspects of their lives, including at the grocery store.
Chabeli Carrazana, an economy reporter from the 19th, explores how inflation costs affect women’s financial decisions about feeding their families. For example, the price of grocery items has risen about 10 percent since March of last year, with many staples — such as baby food, flour, and milk — up even more.
But inflation has not hit every family equally; women of color and those with young children are disproportionately likely to experience financial instability due to rising costs across the board. Consider this: Families with young children generally need a higher portion of protein-based calories to meet the nutritional demands of rapid physical growth and high activity levels and are more likely to consume larger per capita amounts of meat and dairy products. In addition, more than half of Black and Latinx households rent, making them vulnerable to inflation-related rising housing costs. Women of color are also overrepresented in occupations that pay low wages and offer few benefits, giving them minimal leeway between paychecks to absorb these rising costs.
Many women have turned to food pantries for support. Food banks and pantries have noted a significant increase in visitors, with over half being women. According to a survey by Propel, creators of the app that helps Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients gain access to their benefits, food insecurity has increased recently. About 30% of users, most of whom are women, reported having to skip meals and visit food pantries.
The pandemic and food inflation have exacerbated our country’s food insecurity issue. Improving job quality, closing the gender wage and wealth gaps, and bolstering our safety net systems for parents and children are all needed to support families through our current period of inflation and economic challenges yet to come.