Bryan County Family Connection Director Wendy Futch can count a cost associated with rising gas prices by the rising number of households using the county food bank in Pembroke.
“In all of May, we served 175 households,” Futch said Wednesday. “So far in June we’ve already served 150 households. We’ve also had people call and ask to have their food delivered, because they can’t afford the gas to come get it. People are having to pinch pennies because of the price of gas.”
What’s more, Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia, which usually distributes food in Pembroke on the second Tuesday of the month, has cut back on the number of stops it makes. It’s cut out North Bryan altogether for the moment.
That decision is in part due to supply chain issues and a lack of donated goods, the nonprofit agency said on its Facebook page, but also because of the cost of gas.
That’s adding to the strain on those who may be living paycheck to paycheck and those already in need of help, Futch said.
“I don’t think we should have to choose between buying gas and food, and some people are really having to do that,” she added.
The average price of regular unleaded gas nationally was $3.069 a gallon in June 2021. The national average Wednesday was $5.004 per gallon.
In Bryan County, gas prices Wednesday ranged from $4.22 a gallon in Richmond Hill to $4.49 in Pembroke, according to Gas-Buddy.com.
And if gas prices are crunching household budgets, it’s also impacting local governments – which usually can buy fuel in bulk to avoid market swings but still have to spend more when prices go up and stay up.
Bryan County Schools purchases fuel in bulk, but has seen its budget for gas nearly double since the 2021 fiscal year, according to Assistant Superintendent Jason Rogers, who heads up the system’s operations division.
That year Bryan County Schools spent $381,837.78 on fuel for its fleet of vehicles. Rogers projected the 2022 fiscal year will end June 30 with BCS spending $645,000, and the system is budgeting $760,000 for FY 2023.
Bryan County Communications Manager Matthew Kent said the county’s cost for bulk diesel fuel has gone up 212 percent from May 2020 to May 2022, or from $1.47 a gallon to $4.60 a gallon. Regular gas has gone from $1.32 a gallon to $3.77 a gallon, an increase of 185 percent.
That gas is used by al the county’s departments, ranging from the sheriff’s office and fire and emergency services to animal control, public works and recreation.
Note: This is a first snapshot of how the continuing high gas prices are affecting local people. If you have an idea for a story email jwhitten@ bryancountynews.com.