Meals on Wheels hurt by gas costs

May 30, 2008 3:18:58 PM PDT
Soaring gas prices in our area are squeezing budgets for a lot of people, businesses and organizations.One program that has been hit very hard by gas costs is Meals on Wheels in suburban Cook County. It delivers food to the sick and the elderly who are unable go shopping.

Samuel Grimes started volunteering for the Meals on /wheels Foundation of Cook County in 1993 at the urging of his wife.

"She volunteered me. I find it rewarding. I love it," said Grimes.

In one day, he'll deliver 30 meals to seniors in the north suburbs. That's more than he used to deliver. One 95-year-old is one of his regulars.

"It's wonderful to have a visitor," the woman said.

Last year, Grimes started delivering to one couple in their 90s.

"You get pretty lonesome by yourself all the time. We don't go anywhere else most of the time, stay home all day long," the man said.

Meals on Wheels Foundation of Cook County had relied on volunteers to deliver meals. But the agency has lost more than 20 volunteers recently due to high gas prices.

"They just can't handle gas prices. They're putting the miles out there. Gas is going up and up and need for these meals is going up and up," said Donna Schultz, Meals on Wheels, Community Nutrition Network.

One center in Evanston has lost several drivers due to high gas prices. The regional coordinator recently received a letter of resignation from a volunteer who has been with them for years. But she cited rising gas costs among the reasons she just can't do it anymore.

At the Evanston center, they hired Grimes to insure someone would be available deliver meals. But with more deliveries, Grimes isn't able to spend as much time with the seniors. He's often the only one who sees the seniors on a daily basis.

"Without volunteers, that means that I have to make all the stops, and it means that people have to wait. I can't get to them," he said.

More than the meals, connecting with their clients is part of the service. Grimes hopes to get some help as aging baby boomers create more need for Meals on Wheels.

The web address for the Community Nutrition Network and Senior Services Association is www.cnnssacookcounty.org. They provide the services. Individuals wanting to volunteer may go to the CNNSSA website.

The website for the Meals on wheels Foundation is www.mowcookcounty.org. The foundation is responsible for fund raising and public relations. Donations can be made at the foundation website.


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