RALIEGH COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — In June of 2022, the annual inflation rate hit 9.1 percent, but prices across the board continue to rise beyond that point.

Groceries are a prime example. According to a recent study by Iowa State University, experts report the cost of food is rising faster than inflation. The cost of food has gone up 12.2 percent since 2021, the highest since 1979. Each month, food prices rise by an average of one percent.

“I think, sometimes, they’re taking advantage of the situation,” said Emma Moore. “Because everybody’s raising everything. Gas prices are going up. And then all the food prices are up.”

Local senior citizens tell us the different ways they try to keep up with the cost.

“Not necessarily at the grocery store, but other places, I make sure they know I’m a veteran because they will give you a discount,” said Larry Cummings, a senior who is also a U.S. veteran. “Without discounts, you’re in trouble. I’m a big believer in coupons, but that’s the way we survive.”

A worker at a local grocery store said many local seniors are unable to access digital coupons from their cell phone apps.

Cummings said he cuts paper coupons from the local newspaper and sales ads.

“I use the paper,” he said. “I don’t get anything off the phone. I haven’t figured out how to use that rat’s maze, yet.”

Seniors visit the Raleigh County Commission on Aging in Beckley and similar agencies for lunch and activities on weekdays.

Others visit local food banks like Mountaineer Food Bank, said local food bank organizer Ron Hedrick.

Hedrick brings truckloads of food to southern West Virginia each month through food bank services for veterans and others. He said there is an increased need for food, in Mount Hope and other locations.

“In the last probably four to six months, we’ve seen an increase in the need with the food giveaways,” said Hedrick. “Of course, our food giveaway we started a couple months ago in Mount Hope had a 20 percent increase from the first time to the second time.”

Hedrick says the federal government is providing less food as the need increases.

“As things get bad in the grocery store, they also get bad in the government,” he reported. “A lot of the food that has gotten donated by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has gotten tougher to get.”

Last month, he said, the agency could have provided food to 700 veterans but was limited to serving 600, since the USDA could provide only 600 servings.

Hedrick said USDA is also giving away canned meats instead of fresh meats and that fresh vegetables are no longer available through USDA.