Gas prices cause a hassle for AEOA’s Meals on Wheels program

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As gas prices continue to rise nonprofits that have volunteers traveling to help our community, are struggling.

AEOA’s Meals on Wheels program is one of them. Their drivers put in a lot of time and gas delivering meals to those who are homebound.

Marilyn Ocepek, AEOA Senior Services Director, says, “We have gas prices that are hurting our volunteers, it’s costly.”

The program relies heavily on volunteers making the deliveries. Ocepek says, "When the meals go out to the homebound, that’s all volunteer… all volunteer drivers. But they can’t do it with the gas prices. Because some of them do it more than once a week. And that adds up."

Marilyn Ocepek manages seven counties in the Arrowhead and says the problem is felt everywhere. In Duluth volunteers help out on 10 routes alone. Putting in a lot of time on the road without being reimbursed.

Ocepek says, "This has kind of been our philosophy, if you are driving in the city limits we don’t reimburse for mileage. Well that’s going to have to change now."

With the Arrowhead average gas price range of $4.35 to $4.84, the organization is working on making volunteer deliveries sustainable.

"So we are looking at $40 dollar gas cards to get out to our drivers that do it more than one day a week. We have volunteers that do it two to three times”, says Ocepek.

She also mentions that the Arrowhead Economic Opportunities Association hopes to recruit new volunteers to alleviate the weight the current volunteers have making multiple deliveries.