Charities feeling gas price pinch

May 21, 2008 4:49:08 PM PDT
The relentless rise of gas prices - along with food prices - and just about everything else - is a growing burden for Americans. But it's also a hardship for organizations that gas-up to deliver meals to those in need. MANNA volunteers make meals for 900 people in the Delaware Valley whose life threatening illnesses render them too sick to cook for themselves and their families. The generous-of-spirit cook a weeks worth of nutritious meals for people with cancer, kidney disease, HIV and AIDS. But with sky-rocketing gas prices, the cost of filling the tanks of the seven trucks used to deliver meals to most clients is weighing their donor-based budget down.

"Currently our gas fuel charges are 25% above the budget that we forecasted this year which is going to cost this organization 12 to 15 thousand dollars more than we forecast," said MANNA CEO Richard Keaveney.

Volunteers traditionally deliver meals to nearly 200 sick MANNA clients. Escalating gas prices are already causing some volunteers who fuel MANNA's outreach to shift gears.

"A number of volunteers have asked to either cut down on the number of days per month they would volunteer or actually said until things calmed down, they can't drive anymore," Keaveney said.

A number of local automobile-dependent charitable organizations are feeling the gas price pinch. One local group that brings meals to thousands of seniors is worried it's delivery volunteers will ask to be reimbursed for gas money. But with sights on expanding service to 1,500 people, MANNA will spend $15,000 on software that offers efficient dispatching expertise.

"We think investing in this and doing it the way FedEx would do it, may help us in the long run," said Keaveney.

MANNA gets one-third of its multi-million dollar budget from government-based contractors, and the rest from volunteers. Charities that are solely volunteer-based don't know how they will be able to continue to do work they do.

For more information on MANNA, visit their website