WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)— It’s no secret that inflation is putting a strain on household budgets.

The impact of the slumping economy is taking a toll on community health.

Health is not just a matter of disease and infection. It includes physical, mental, and social well-being.

Eyewitness News reporter Mark Hiller looked at the problem with help from a local non-profit as well as a national community health expert.

Weekly food distribution happening outside Kistler Elementary School is something the CYC coordinates each Wednesday. This week, 150 containers of subs, macaroni salad, and pickles are handed out to families struggling to make ends meet, a struggle worsened by inflation taking a big bite out of family budgets.

“When you have to make those tough choices, something is going to suffer and that’s what we’re seeing now,” said Bill Jones.

United Way of Wyoming Valley President and CEO Bill Jones sees the toll the higher cost of living is taking on the 25,000 families his non-profit organization serves.

“It affects sleep. It affects attitude. It affects mood. We just heard this morning on a call that, you know, one of the concerns is more domestic, you know, violence,” Jones told Eyewitness News.

“It’s been really challenging for folks,” said Jane Chai.

Challenges that Jane Chai, MPH of Conduent Healthy Communities Institute said on the surface may sound unrelated to health, but factors like food insecurity, unstable housing, and unemployment have what she considers a significant impact.

“When you have all of those factors and you have increasing inflation where folks just can’t get to work because they can’t afford the gas, you know, that’s the foundation of health,” Chai explained.

While hard health data may be lacking on the existing downward economic turn, Chai makes a valid point.

“I think we can certainly look at past data to know that folks who are in need and that as their needs grow, their health is going to suffer,” Chai said.

It’s why United Way of Wyoming Valley and its member agencies are delivering a vital message to a community in need.

“There are things that can be done, you know, to help these families and the agencies are resources to the families,” Jones said.