Gas Costs Could Shift Meals On Wheels Program Into Park in Rural Areas

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

The rising cost of gas is something everyone is struggling with. Now imagine working for a non-profit agency where traveling is your entire business.

That's exactly what Meals On Wheels is up against, and those soaring prices at the pump could affect who the agency services.

"We provide a hot noon time meal for about 550 people, Monday through Friday," William Ray with the Brazos Valley Community Action Agency said.

Each day, Ray loads up his car to deliver hot and fresh meals to those who find it difficult to get out of the house.

"I don't go anywhere," Meals On Wheels Recipient Mary Jean Tigierina said. "I just wait for somebody to come get me something to eat."

It's a rewarding job, that also comes at a high cost. Each time William gets in the car, there is one thing lingering in the back of his mind.

"We drive almost 11,000 miles each month, which is about 900 gallons of gas," Ray said. "Which if you do the figures we planned on spending $2500 a month on gas, now we're spending $4,000, and it may cut into our delivery areas soon.

Meals on Wheels services a four county region: travelling each day to Grimes, Burleson, Robertson, and Brazos Counties. William Ray says he knows just how important those meals are to the elderly.

"The rural areas like Robertson county and Grimes County, I don't know how these people would get food if it wasn't for us," Ray said.

That's why the group known for helping others is hoping someone will help them so they don't have to scale back the program.

"I had Hearne, Calvert, Franklin, and Bremond that was one of my routes," Gloria Briano said.

Briano used to be one of the smiling faces delivering meals to those in need, now some twenty years later she's on the receiving end. So Gloria knows first hand, what Meals and Wheels brings to the table.

"I can't get out. I would just have to find whatever is in the kitchen to cook because I don't have a car," Briano said. "I'm 80 years old and I don't drive anymore."

Now Briano relies on the company she once worked for.

"Oh this is wonderful," Briano said. "The steak is always so good."

It's a job William Ray hopes they can continue for many more years to come.

"We're hopeful to find some funds to continue the program," Ray said.

Meals on Wheels says about 80 percent of their budget is covered by state and federal government, with the remaining 20 percent coming from the community.

The non-profit is in talks right now for next year's budget. However, group officials say it doesn't look like they're going to get any extra funding for the rising gas costs.

If you're interested in supporting or volunteering at Meals on Wheels you can call 823-2203. Whether it's as a delivery person, or just working behind the scenes; the group says without the help of volunteers the program couldn't exist.

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