The rising gas prices are having an impact on local Meals on Wheels, and it’s adding on to problems already left behind by the pandemic.
March has always been an exciting time for the Meals on Wheels organization in San Antonio.
“March is March for Meals. It’s National Meals on Wheels month. It celebrates the signing of a portion of the Older Americans Act that helps to finance Meals on Wheels,” said Forrest Myane, chief strategy and development officer for Meals on Wheels San Antonio.
This year is significant because it’s the 50th anniversary.
‘We’re also asking people to come volunteer,” Myane said.
Myane said the organization relies on volunteers. Many of them dropped off during the pandemic, so they reduced the number of delivery days.
“We moved from serving our clients Monday through Friday — every single day seeing them to only seeing them twice a week,” she said.
Three hundred volunteers a day are needed to deliver meals five days a week. But getting that many people ready to put their own money in the tank is another battle.
“We have about a half that. We have about one 150 a day right now,” Myane said.
With gas prices rising daily, Myane said it’s hard to incentivize volunteers.
There’s another side to this issue.
“The more it costs us to fill up our vehicles, the more it costs us overall to deliver these meals,” she said.
The customer is shielded from the cost. Right now, the organization pays about $5 a meal for delivery.
“It’s probably running up about 10% to 20% higher per meal between all of those factors. So it is kind of a crunch time right now,” Myane said.
On top of everything, Meals on Wheels San Antonio is serving more people across their eight counties than they ever have before because of the pandemic.
“We serve between 4,000 and 4,500 people every week,” Myane said.
She said one thing won’t change despite the challenges they face.
“If we don’t have enough volunteers show up that day, we all go deliver meals regardless of what our job is. So the meals will get out,” she said.
Myane said businesses or other organizations can donate or volunteer to run a delivery site for a day or two.
If you want to volunteer, even once a month, that can help. To volunteer, you need to be at least 18 years old or older, have a valid driver’s license, and be able to pass a background check.
Tonight on the #NightBeat @_MealsOnWheels is feeling the effects of the rising gas prices. Add that on top of a volunteer shortage, the organization is now asking for help so they can get back to delivering meals 5 days a week. @ksatnews pic.twitter.com/NES4yG8atf
— Leigh Waldman (@LeighWaldman) March 10, 2022