High gas prices, fewer Meals on Wheels

High gas prices are even impacting those who don't drive. For seniors who depend on Meals on Wheels, the price at the pump may affect how they get their deliveries.

It’s been a particularly difficult last few years delivering Meals on Wheels during the coronavirus pandemic. The number of meals needed in the community has increased, and sadly, there are far fewer wheels to deliver them.\

It takes a small army to keep some of Waukesha County’s most vulnerable from going hungry.

"The first thing that we do is put ice in the cases here," said Rich Petersohn, volunteer.

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Meals on Wheels are prepared each day for those in need.

"We did 181 meals today," said Petersohn on Monday, March 21.

Petersohn said that’s up more than two dozen meals a day just since February.

"We’ve got a community," said Petersohn. "We all have to pull together."

Lately, there have been far fewer helping hands.

"A couple of years ago, it would not be unusual for us to have 400 volunteers," said Mike Glasgow, organizer. "Now, we are closer to 260/270."

Glasgow said 40 more delivery drivers are needed to help ease the burden on the current team.

"The hours are right over the lunch hour," said Glasgow. "It’s maybe an hour or two at most."

There’s one thing that’s turned some volunteers away.  While the Aging and Disability Resource Center reimburses for mileage, at least one volunteer has left because of high gas prices. Extra drivers would mean shorter routes for everyone and lower costs all around.

"If you want to help people, this is the way to do it," said Jim McDonald.

McDonald said he's not fazed by these prices. He knows his job is about more than just filling an empty stomach.

"The elderly need help," said McDonald. "They need friends. They need someone to talk to."

The program reimburses at the current IRS rate of 58 cents per mile. Many don’t even submit for mileage, which just goes to show how generous these volunteers are.

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