Gas prices in Iowa in recent days have been hovering just below $3.60 a gallon. The situation has a lot people thinking about how much and where they drive.
It’s also taking a bite out of some volunteer programs like Meals on Wheels. Sally Myers is program director for the nonprofit Hawkeye Valley Area Agency on Aging in Waterloo, which has 1,100 elderly clients in 10 counties who receive home delivered meals each week. The deliveries come from drivers who donate their time and fuel.
“We have one center that says that they will probably lose their volunteers if gas goes to $5 a gallon,” Myers said. “So they are hearing about it and talking about it. It’s not quite bothering them yet, but it may be in the future.” Many volunteers are themselves retired and on a fixed income.
Myers predicts further increases in the price at the pump could lead to delivery delays or schedule changes. “We’ve always been pretty proud of ourselves in Iowa because we’ve never had a waiting list, especially in our area,” Myers said. “But that is a reality, we may have to do that. And to put them on a waiting list…people need meals now. If they’re on a waiting list, they may have to wait a week or two.”
The current volunteers in Waterloo have become resourceful, according to Healthy Lifestyle Center coordinator Heather Chingrin. “One person, instead of driving their SUV, they drive their other car. And they help me with the routes,” Chingrin said.
“If they think a route can be done a little bit differently to save on miles and gas – I try to be very conscious of that – but…that’s something we sit down and look at.” There is some good news for Meals on Wheels volunteers. They’re allowed to claim mileage on their income tax forms as a charitable donation.