It's a special delivery that so many senior citizens count on throughout northeastern and central Pennsylvania: a fresh, nutritious meal brought right to the recipient's door. Meals on Wheels of Wyoming Valley has provided this service since 1969 at Church of Christ Uniting in Kingston. All of the dozen or so volunteer drivers pay for their own gas. It's a rising cost that's raising concern. "We do think about it, we do worry about it, it is definitely an issue," said Janice Petlock who is the head cook for Meal On Wheels of Wyoming Valley. It's even more of an issue because 80-percent of these volunteers are senior citizens themselves including many on fixed incomes. Ms. Petlock says the organization's current volunteer drivers are coping so far with the cost of gas. But the price at the pump through the years did force some to drop out. "Sometimes it had been a factor and we'd have to ask if two of our volunteers could do extra," said Ms. Petlock.
Some of these volunteers have been helping the Meals on Wheels program since the time when gas was less than a dollar a gallon. Now, gas prices have tripled and even almost quadrupled in some cases. Barb Young of Dallas has been a volunteer driver for about 20 years and won't let gas expenses stop her. "I feel like I'm blessed that I could afford to do it," she said. However, she realizes that not all volunteers may be able to bare the expense. "Maybe for others, yeah. I definitely see that that could work into the equation."
Volunteer drivers like Mary Beth Farrell say it's hard to place a value on what they deliver. "The food is important but we are the only human connection that some of these people have," she said. People who hope rising gas prices don't cause a delivery dilemma.
Meals On Wheels could always use more volunteer drivers. The organization also needs runners who accompany those drivers to make the delivery drop-off. You can find out about helping Meals On Wheels of Wyoming Valley by calling 570-288-1023 or your nearest Meals On Wheels.