With the increase in gas prices comes the struggle local nonprofits face when it comes to being able to afford to deliver food to those in need.
Local nonprofits are being hit hard by gas price increases, including partners of the SLO Food Bank.
“The impact of increased gas prices on our clients is just tragic,” said SLO Food Bank CEO Garret Olson. “It’s an impact that reverberates through our entire community.”
Olson said shipping costs continue to escalate for the food bank.
“The more immediate impact locally here is the impact on those who can least afford to pay the increased price of fuel right now,” Olson said.
Five Cities Meals on Wheels is feeling the pain at the pump as well.
“It’s a real hardship for most of our drivers because most of them are on a fixed income and they’re not reimbursed for any of their mileage at all,” said Five Cities Meals on Wheels President Gale Weis.
“All 85 of those partners of ours need more help,” Olson added.
Drivers volunteer their time and gas to deliver meals to those in need with the organization.
“The largest route is 32 miles. That’s a lot of miles and we deliver five days a week,” Weis said.
Servicing from Arroyo Grande to Pismo Beach in the Five Cities region since 1975, the organization says it prides itself on interpersonal relationships.
“If we didn’t do it, there would be nobody to check on them or bring them food,” Weis said. “It is a real hardship but we’re going to figure something out.”
“It’s extremely important, otherwise people won’t be getting the nutrition they need or the friendly faces to see,” said Gary Brooks, a Meals on Wheels driver.
“They are the only people we see sometimes, and we stay and talk to them and get to know them,” said Sharon Collester, a Meals on Wheels driver for the last 10 years.
While the rise in gas prices hurts, drivers say they will continue to serve their neighbors.
“I’m going to keep doing it even though I have to pay the extra gas,” Collester said.
“I can’t think of a better thing to spend my money on than delivering food to the people who need it,” Brooks said.
“We get rewarded in so many ways by the clients that we serve,” Weis added.
Drivers are volunteers spending their money and time going out to deliver food.
Voluntary donations are being accepted by the SLO Food Bank and Meals on Wheels.
Meals on Wheels is currently searching for more drivers.
To donate to the SLO Food Bank, visit their website at https://www.slofoodbank.org/.
To donate to the Five Cities Meals on Wheels organization, visit www.5citiesmow.com.