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Mary McNamara
Meals On Wheels Association of America
  Assistant Vice President, Membership and Communications

For Immediate Release

Gas Crisis Hits Meals On Wheels Programs Across Nation

Those who don't drive pay the highest price

Alexandria, VA (May 19, 2011) - As the cost of gas skyrockets, all Americans are paying top dollar to drive their vehicles, but it is the homebound seniors who rely on Meals On Wheels for their next meal that are struggling the most. Meals On Wheels programs and their volunteers are desperately working to continue to deliver meals despite the impact of the current gas crisis on their costs and operation. Recent findings show that the situation will only get worse if gas prices continue to rise.

According to a national survey conducted by Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA), many Meals On Wheels programs nationwide are struggling due to the increase in the price of gas. Nearly 80% of those Meals On Wheels programs have lost volunteers. One program reported losing 5 volunteers in a single week, an incidence that is unprecedented in the program's history. It is even more alarming that 25% of those programs reported they have had to reduce the number of meals they serve per week and 30% have started a waiting list of seniors needing meals. 67% believe their program will have to cut back on meal service if the price of gas enters in the range of $4.50 to $5.00. This crisis presents an urgent situation for Meals On Wheels considering that these programs nationwide serve approximately 1 million meals per day.

The cost of gas used by paid staff and volunteers of Meals On Wheels programs to deliver meals to seniors in their local communities each day is enormous. Each day across the United States Meals On Wheels programs and their volunteers drive 1.25 million miles to bring meals to seniors who need them. Currently, the total daily cost of gas used by all Meals On Wheels programs nationally exceeds $247,000. And every one cent increase in the price of gas equals an additional $250,000 a year that is spent on delivering meals to homebound seniors. On an annual basis this translates to millions more dollars spent. For example, gasoline prices for the week of May 9, 2011 were $1.06 higher than for the same week of 2010. This means that costs nationally of delivering services based on this factor alone increased by $26,500,000.

On MOWAA's website,, visitors can learn from an interactive graph how much the cost of gas affects the average American, Meals On Wheels volunteers and Meals On Wheels programs across the country.

Visual Graph: How do gas price increases affect Meals On Wheels Programs and Volunteers?

"For our Meals On Wheels programs, it is a triple whammy because gas prices are up, food prices are up, and the economy is down," said Enid Borden, President and CEO of MOWAA. "As Americans, we have a responsibility to think beyond ourselves and our wallets. The numbers don't lie. Our meal programs and the people they serve need help now. Just how long can we ask these seniors to wait for a life sustaining meal?"

MOWAA is encouraging the public to be part of the solution to ending senior hunger by volunteering for their local Meals On Wheels program or by simply making a donation. The national organization is collecting funds from individuals so that they can provide gas grants to select MOWAA Member programs in the most need.

Click here to view a list of cities in America and find out how gas prices are impacting Meals On Wheels programs and volunteers.

High quality video and images available

Go to to view and download a soundbite with MOWAA President & CEO Enid Borden talking about the gas crisis and its impact on Meals On Wheels.  MPEG4 video of Meals On Wheels deliveries related to the gas crisis is also available at that page. For outlets interested in using the images below for reporting on this story, simply right-click and save any photo below to use it for web quality. Or, click on the image to go to a high-resolution version. Any of these images below that are posted/published by your media outlet must be credited with "Meals On Wheels Association of America/Lindsay Benson Garrett."


About Meals On Wheels Association of America:
The Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) is the oldest and largest national organization in the United States representing those programs that provide meals to people in need. MOWAA’s vision is to end senior hunger by 2020. To obtain more information about MOWAA or to locate a local Meals On Wheels program, visit the MOWAA website at

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