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Holiday Menu Staples Hit Hardest by Supply Chain Issues and Price Hikes




(NEXSTAR) — Just about every item you expect to find on the table for a big Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner is being impacted by supply chain issues, staffing shortages, higher costs of production, scarcity – or all of the above.

Let’s start with the side dishes. The issue here isn’t so much with the ingredients, but rather with the packaging those ingredients come in. Aluminum cans, glass jars and bottles are all tied up in shipping bottlenecks on their way from China, said Rodney Holcomb, a food economist at Oklahoma State University.

“Those could be stuck on a ship somewhere off the West Coast and just not making it into port,” Holcomb said.

There may be plenty of cranberries to make cranberry sauce – just no easy way to package it. Others are having trouble getting labels for their products. As food makers get creative on how to cope with packaging changes and shortages, those costs can be passed on to consumers.

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On top of the packaging problems, “the California drought [is] also impacting grapes, nuts, different fruits and vegetables. And Hurricane Ida shut down sugar refineries in the southeast,” said Holcomb. “Any one of those might have an impact. You throw them all together, and they become quite the challenge.”

Even your raw vegetables might be more expensive because the cost of fertilizer, much of which is imported from China, has skyrocketed. Not to mention, the increased cost of fertilizer means it’s more expensive to grow corn, which means it’s more expensive to raise chickens, turkey and other livestock. “It’s one big expensive circle,” said Holcomb.

When it comes to desserts, the same packaging problems apply for a can of pumpkin or a pre-made frozen pie crust. Since those are both shelf stable, just buy them when you see them, advised Holcomb. Even some of the sturdier vegetables, like sweet potatoes, will last long enough if you store them properly.

“Start planning ahead and it gives you time to look around. If one store doesn’t have that one product you want, it gives you time to look around for the thing you want,” he said.

Now for many families’ main course: meat. The cost of all food is up nearly 5% from a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but meat prices have risen especially high, said Derrell Pierce, an Oklahoma State agricultural economics professor specializing in livestock.

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The protein markets have been through a lot in the last year, with demand spiking during COVID-19 lockdowns and meat processing plants being hit hard by virus outbreaks. Pierce doesn’t expect we’ll be seeing cleaned out, empty meat cases at grocery stores this year, but there are still some quirks you may notice.

For example, you might have trouble finding a small turkey. That’s because turkeys grow pretty quickly, so if there are any slowdowns at a processing plant (because of a COVID-19 outbreak or a broken piece of equipment that needs a part shipped from overseas) then those turkeys keep getting bigger and bigger.

“Whenever a turkey reaches that 10 to 13 lb. window, if they can’t get them slaughtered on time … now you’ve got an 18 to 20 lb. turkey,” said Pierce.

His tip for dealing with the uncertainty this year is to stay flexible.

“You may not get exactly the product you’ve always gotten,” said Pierce. “There will be a turkey of some size. There will be hams. They may not be the boneless, spiral cut you normally get, but there will be some other form of ham.”

“If there was ever a time where you have said, ‘maybe I should mix things up and drop one of the traditional items and try something new,’ this would be the year to consider it,” said Holcomb.

“Find that one thing (that is grown) local and that can become your new food tradition, instead of getting that thing that you always buy – but everyone in the country always buys too – so it’ll be hard to find.”

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New GR Pharmacy to Serve Spanish-speaking Patients




GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — By the end of the year, Grand Rapids’ Roosevelt Park neighborhood will have a new pharmacy.

Trinity Health Clinica Santa Maria began construction Monday morning on the $1.5 million project. The new pharmacy will include both walk-up and drive-thru services.

Trinity Health Clinica Santa Maria practice leader Kameron Selleck it will offer convenience in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a pharmacy close in proximity, making it challenging for patients to get their prescriptions in a timely manner.

“A lot of our patients do encounter a lot of social barriers in their lives,” Selleck said.

He added that a language barrier can make it difficult patients to get their prescriptions. He said nearly every employee at Clinica Santa Maria is bilingual in Spanish and the plan is for that trend to carry over to new pharmacy and pharmacy tech hires.

“I think this project was announced almost five years ago, so it’s here,” Selleck said. “I just really encourage the community to be as excited as we are.

The pharmacy is at 730 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. SW (formerly Grandville Avenue) at Martin Luther King Jr. Street (formerly Franklin Street) in Grand Rapids. It will be the seventh Trinity Health pharmacy in the Grand Rapids area, with the other locations being Cathedral Square, the Wege Building at Trinity Heath Saint Mary’s, Hudsonville, Rockford, Byron Center and Southeast Grand Rapids.

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Tulip Time Crowds Encouraging for Returning Festivals




HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Tulip Time saw big crowds this year as it returned to a more regular schedule.

The event was cancelled in 2020 and scaled back last year because of the pandemic.

Hot temperatures caused damage to some of Holland’s tulips, Tulip Time organizers say.

The heat caused challenges for the 2022 festival. The Tulip Immersion Garden, a new attraction, had to close early because the hot temperatures caused too much damage to the flowers, Tulip Time Executive Director Gwen Auwerda said.

“They don’t like 80 degree, 90 degree weather. Tulips prefer it to be about 40 at night, 60 to 70, maybe 80 during the day,” Auwerda said.

Heat closes down Tulip Time Immersion Garden early

The organization is working on final numbers but saw attendance return to pre-pandemic levels.

“I do know that the carnival exceeded 2019 by 25 to 30%, so that was fabulous for them and it was packed everywhere in town,” Auwerda said.

Kevin Knight, the owner of Market Zero, said the festival definitely provided a boost as they worked to keep up with demand. 

“It’s a huge kick off to your summer season,” Knight said. “Our fridges were completely full and got completely empty and completely full and completely empty, so it was about everything we could handle.”

Market Zero in downtown Holland on May 16, 2022. Inside Market Zero in downtown Holland on May 16, 2022.

The return of crowds could be good sign for other events coming back this summer, like the Festival of the Arts in Grand Rapids. Mark Azkoul, an organizer for the event that began in 1970, sees the success of Tulip Time as encouraging.

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“We’ve been out for two years so this is a big thing for us and for the city to get Festival back up and going,” Azkoul said.

Organizers created the Plein Air event for 2021, which combined outdoor art and music.

The 2022 event runs June 3 through June 5. After taking a break because of the pandemic the festival needs extra help.    

“A lot of people still don’t know yet festival is coming back, so we really want to get the word out. We need more volunteers,” Azkoul said.

People interested in volunteering can sign up on the Festival of the Arts website.


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Mom Does ‘small Part’ to Help Parents Who Need Formula




HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Though there appears to an end of the baby formula shortage in sight, it’s still causing problems for parents, so a mother in Holland did what she could to help.

Abbott Nutrition has announced its entered into an agreement with the federal Food and Drug Administration to restart its Sturgis plant within two weeks. The closure of that plant has been a huge contributing factor to the shortage. The company expects its products to ship to stores eight weeks after production resumes.

But for now, many parents can’t find the formula they need. The low supply has some stores limiting the number of formulas customers can purchase, adding that they are in “extraordinary high” demand.

The baby formula shelves at a Meijer in Holland.

So Caitlin Dampier, a mother of two whose youngest is a 3-month-old girl, stepped up to help where she could.

“I really wish I could help out more, but this is just my small part,” Dampier said.

She got a box of Enfamil formulas that she’s not using because she’s breastfeeding.

“When you’re pregnant, you get free samples and so I thought I would just offer mine for free for mothers who need them,” Dampier said. “I kept it around in case I wasn’t able to breastfeed.”

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Dampier made a post on Facebook this week directed at parents who can’t find formula. The box she received included three cans of Enfamil formulas and two ready-made formulas.

Two mothers reached out to her, including Kourtney Hann, another Holland resident. She’s one of thousands of mothers across the country who have had to go to great lengths to find food for their baby.

“I have had to go to stores maybe 45 minutes away just to even try to get formula,” she said. “It’s very hard to find them where I’m at right now. I went to Walmart yesterday and all they had was Similac and my daughter has a really bad reaction to Similac.”

Hann was able to connect with Dampier and picked up a can of Enfamil. Dampier left the box on her front porch with the message, “Please take only the formula you chose and tear out some coupons for yourself. My prayers are with you during this difficult time.”

The box of Enfamil products Caitlin Dampier left at her door for mothers to pick up.

Hann said she was down to her last can of baby formula which lasts her about five days. Now that she has received another can from Dampier, she’ll be able to feed her 9-month-old for the next two weeks.

“Being a mom is hard enough as it is. You have so many other struggles and to be afraid to know if you’re going to be able to feed your baby or not is a struggle,” Dampier said. “You want to do everything for your kids so when you’re not able to it’s hard. It’s just the worst feeling in the world.”


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