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Quad-Cities schools prepare to help students with supplies amid rising costs

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Photos from the 2022 "Ready to ROCK the School Year!" event

Bikers 4 Backpacks motorcyclists line up to deliver school supplies to students at the "Ready to ROCK the School Year!" back-to-school event for the Rock Island-Milan School District. Class in the Rock Island-Milan District began Wednesday.

Going back to school gets more expensive every year.

School supply costs have increased about 35% and nearly 41% for those off to college. This year, the National Retail Foundation is forecasting families will spend $864 on average for school supplies, a $20 jump from 2021.

It's no surprise that inflation has grown exponentially over the last 12 months. In June 2021, the producer price index was at 8% and jumped to 11.3% in June, according to the retail industry group.

Clothing and accessories have proven to fall victim to inflation the most. Rene Gellerman, CEO of United Way Quad Cities, said local people were concerned about costs.

"It's definitely a conversation people are having," she said. "With the rising cost of food and gas and everyday items, the uncertainty of the economy is affecting people living on the edge as it is.”

Dialing 211 will reach a line meant to link people in need with the resources. At the United Way, food, clothing and gas are at the top of the list, Gellerman said.

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Bruno Sebastian, left, and Ophelia Sebastian shop for back-to-school supplies on July 25, 2022, at an OfficeMax store with their mother, Nicole, right, before starting the first and fourth grades, respectively.

Celeste Miller, a spokesperson for Bettendorf Schools, said staff had the feeling families would need more help this year compared to others.

 "We know that our free and reduced numbers increase each year; therefore, we are anticipating we will have an increased need," she said.

More than 25,000 students in the Quad-Cities schools are eligible for the free- and reduced-lunch programs, according to the Quad Cities First Day project, an organization that coordinates with schools to put supplies into the hands of children. In a few area schools, as many as 98% of the student population qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

Classes are still a few weeks away for most area schools, but Miller said connecting students with the proper gear has been on the minds of staff for months. 

"We haven't seen an increased need yet," she said, "but it's early." 

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