Steven James, 43, works in finance, has multiple cellphones clipped to his belt and projects the air of a hardworking, successful sort of guy. And yet there he was last week, buying day-old bread at the Oroweat thrift store in South Pasadena.
"Food's just so expensive," James said. "It's going up faster than salaries." He said he now seeks bargains like day-old bread wherever he can find them.
It seems as if the cost of everything is outpacing people's pay these days. Gas, the rent, utility bills -- and now food.
According to the Labor Department, the average cost of groceries is climbing at an annual rate of about 5%, the sharpest increase in 18 years. Average weekly earnings are rising at an annual rate of 3.3%.
This disparity has resulted in significantly higher customer traffic at bakery thrift outlets, employees say, as well as a surge in people turning to food banks.