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Low gas prices provide relief for Meals on Wheels
Beaumont- by Haley Bull
Low gas prices are coming as a relief to Southeast Texas, and to Meals on Wheels. Facing federal funding cuts, the local organization is looking for ways to cut costs. For the volunteers making deliveries, and the seniors receiving them, the service is crucial.
Joyce Egan, 82, has made meal deliveries to seniors for the past 12 years.
"I live alone with my pets, sure I have time," Egan said. "So I get up and go. Beats the heck out of watching those lint balls roll around on the floor you know." She said she has fun doing it. The people she helps are her friends.
Jean Spell made deliveries with Egan Thursday morning. She's been volunteering for one year.
"It's a matter of giving back and some day I'm gonna need this. So that's where my heart is," Spell said.
Meals on Wheels makes 1100 deliveries a day, driving 12,000-15,000 miles a week. Executive Director Elaine Shellenberger described it as an area the size of Harris County. It's a job that requires a lot of gas.
"Anywhere we can get relief from cost that is just, you know, such a blessing. It's nice to see it go down," Shellenberger said about low gas prices. She said she remembers high gas prices from 2008 at nearly $4.00.
"We just didn't know exactly how we were gonna cover that cost, so yes, it's a real relief to see it go down," Shellenberger said.
Now that the organization is bracing for federal funding cuts, it's a relief that is even more critical. Shellenberger said staff have already been eliminated, so now every dollar counts.
"We're looking at all of our costs and trying to reduce cost wherever we can," she said.
For the volunteers and the seniors receiving lunch, it's a priceless service.
"After 12 years, these aren't nutrition clients," Joyce Egan said, "They're my Thursday and Friday morning friends."
Shellenberger also said that despite financial strains, cutting services is not in the plan.