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Inflation hits small town Arizona in a big way

inflation hitting small towns
Posted at 5:29 PM, Aug 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-01 12:30:09-04

WICKENBURG, AZ  — In small towns like Wickenburg, inflation has impacted people in a big way.

Program Director Karla Mortimer for the Foundation for Senior Living in Wickenburg, says shelves were stacked high and filled with canned food. But, that is not the case anymore.

The “new normal” started during the pandemic and got worse as inflation continued to swell.

Before COVID, Mortimer says they would help feed 50 to 60 families a month. Last month, she measures 160 families came through their doors for food, some for the first time.

“These families will say the increasing in pricing and food and living – this is our source of food right now,” said Mortimer.

Leslie Sickafoose is a lifelong Wickenburg resident, she says living just over an hour outside of the Valley can be a challenge for suppliers to keep up with the growing demand of a small town of over 7,000 people.

Working with the senior center, Sickafoose said it can be “sad at times” when her prideful generation quietly starts to ask for help amid inflation.

“Some seniors are having to choose, do they get their medications, do they get gas or groceries,” said Sickafoose.

Less than 10 minutes from downtown, some in the community feel new development is driving up the cost of rent.

Mortimer said two of their income-based properties for seniors were bought out by private developers.

“A senior that used to pay 700 dollars a month just got a letter that your rent is now 1,200 dollars a month,” she said.

In a town that welcomes champion ropers and cowboys, some may even consider getting around by horseback with gas prices, at times, higher than the average price in the Valley.

On Wednesday, AAA measured the average price of unleaded in the Phoenix-metro area was $4 per gallon. That price reflected at some gas stations in Wickenburg but at others, the a gallon of unleaded was just under 50 cents more.

“It’s been better, but we’re still considerably higher than the Valley,” said Sickafoose.

The Foundation for Senior Living is one of three active food banks in the town of Wickenburg.

Mortimer said despite predominantly helping those over 55 years old, they won’t turn away anyone asking for help over the age of 18.

When asked where she sees the status of the food bank a month from today, she said, “I don’t know if this is sustainable.”