Higher food prices worsen hunger crisis this holiday season
By Susanne C. O’Connor
Updated on: February 6, 2017 / 1:03 PM / CBSNews
(CBSNews) This holiday season, some Americans will be struggling to put enough food on the table.
A new report shows the average annual price of food will go up by about 12 percent this year, pushing the cost of a standard family diet up to about $7,100.
But the U.S. Department of Agriculture expects prices to dip about 3 percent over the next year.
President-elect Donald Trump, a self-declared “foodie,” said in a tweet last week that he wanted to cut the cost of food on the table.
He has repeatedly called for increasing the use of meat and has promised to put more money into food stamps.
Experts said many of these proposals would be difficult to implement and would have little effect on the cost of food.
“We’ve got to find a way to eat more fruits and vegetables,” said Tom Vilsack, CEO of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “If we do, the cost of food will go down.”
The government’s estimates can be deceiving. One way is by accounting for inflation.
That means the price of a dollar of food at the beginning of 2016 was worth the equivalent of about six dollars today.
Inflation is the increase in prices over time. The U.S. Consumer Price Index in the U.S. increased 1.7 percent this year and about 2.7 percent each year from 2008 to 2011.
The CPI also accounts for rising costs of food due to other factors, such as rising energy costs.
“If you look at the price of food, we are not going to have to eliminate meat for the next 20 years,” said Larry Kantrowitz, a senior fellow at the right-leaning Center for American Progress.
The new report is based on USDA data, which show inflation at a rate of 2.9 percent, which Kantrowitz said represents a lower rate than the historical rate of 3.4 percent for food. The government estimates