Gas Crisis Hits Meals-on-Wheels: Elected Officials Plan Call for Volunteers

Local leaders will join the "March for Meals" campaign on Wednesday.

Meals-on-Wheels—the program many seniors find key to their nutritional health—is running on fumes, officials say.

“The recession has been very difficult,” said president and CEO Debbie Case, who noted Meals-on-Wheels has lost dozens of volunteers in recent weeks due to gas costs. “People think we hit our lowest point in 2008, but it’s really compounded the situation.”

On Wednesday, elected officials from throughout San Diego County will join a campaign to increase awareness about the mission of Meals-on-Wheels of Greater San Diego.

The campaign—celebrated by chapters throughout the country during March and labeled “Mayors for Meals Day”—asks for support in caring for the estimated 6 million senior citizens who go hungry each year in America.

The City of La Mesa has given regularly to the program. Online records of executive summaries for fiscal years 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11 indicate that the City Council has allocated $6,000 per year to help the elderly in La Mesa.

More than 10 regional elected officials hope to change the drop in volunteers for Meals-on-Wheels.

“Our hope is that people will see the elected officials and be inspired by their efforts,” said development manager Stephanie DiStefano. “My grandmother raised me so I hold seniors very close to my heart. I can't imagine in my life ever waking up in the morning and wondering how I'm going to get my food. That should never be a concern for seniors.”

But for many seniors, it is a concern.

Case said on any given day, 131,000 seniors are at risk at going hungry in San Diego County and the economy isn't helping.

“The donations are difficult—people who used to give monthly or annually, don't anymore,” said Case who noted the program has 95 different routes each day—covering roughly 750,000 miles a year.

“Gas prices are hurting our volunteers. With gas prices soaring the way they do, we need 150 volunteers a day to deliver our meals and we need 2,300 volunteers on our roster at any given moment.”

This year, the 15-year-old campaign is especially important, said DiStefano.

DiStefano said Meals-on-Wheels is also celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Senior Nutrition Programs in the Older Americans Act, a piece of legislation that supports vital nutrition services for Americans age 60 and older.

“[The campaign’s mission] is twofold,” she said. “It’s the nutrition that the seniors need to stay healthy and it’s the social contact. Many times we’re the only social contact these seniors have because they are homebound seniors.

“We’re the first ones to realize a deterioration in health.”

To learn more about Meals-on-Wheels, visit the website.

David B Secor March 22, 2012 at 01:19 AM
I was shocked to see you waited until the first comment to blame Obama for problems with local Meals-on-Wheels funding. What took you so long? There is a greater supply of oil in the U.S.now than there was 3 years ago when the Evil Obama was elected and gas was $1.95. Demand is at it's lowest since 1997. There is no connection between oil supply-and-demand and the price of gas. Greater oil supply, as in the pipeline, will not effect the gasoline price. We already have greater supply than we did when gas was $1.95 a gallon 3 years ago. And lower demand.You can support the pipeline, but don't support it because it would lower gasoline prices. Oil supply is not causing high gasoline prices. If you can do three things at once, try blaming supply-and-demand, blaming Obama and actually contributing something to Meals-on-Wheels, all at the same time. One of the three would actually help. Then you can demand the city government stop sending your hard-earned tax dollars ($6,000 per year) to this organization which, like all of us, should succeed or fail without a government "handout." Or would that demand show you really care more about keeping your personal 20 cents per year, having something to blame Obama for, and supporting big oil companies than you care about the importance of the Meals-on-Wheels program receiving more donations to help pay for gas - you know, what the article was about.
Selina Forte March 22, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Increased domestic oil drilling does not affect the price of gas so approving Keystone today will have absolutely no impact on what your gas will cost tomorrow. http://b.globe.com/GFLd5d We are drilling more domestic oil since Obama came into office than we were in the years of Bush's final term. http://bit.ly/lgXC9J So with increased oil production, why are we still paying high prices? Many people, believe that it is because of the speculators. Perhaps if oil was sold based solely on the principles of supply and demand, then maybe we wouldn't have these high prices. http://bit.ly/GFGYaX http://buswk.co/ibfkLZ
Komfort March 22, 2012 at 04:32 PM
I guess the ten year production to market claim won't be used by this administration anymore, since we now know it can be done in three years. http://floppingaces.net/2012/02/29/democrats-try-to-convince-us-that-drilling-for-more-oil-is-the-answer-to-high-gas-prices-except-when-its-not-reader-post/ If a president imposes a tariff on foreign energy sources, can we still argue he has no direct control of our energy costs? http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-china-solar-20120320,0,2891514.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Fbusiness+(L.A.+Times+-+Business
Kevin George March 22, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Yes Selina that speech this morning was impressive. I was surprised that the President didn't come out with a hardhat and oil soaked jump suit. By the time it was over I thought he was going to take credit for inventing the Tricone drill bit.
Kevin George March 22, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Great plan Jason! But it sounds familiar. Where have I heard it before?


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