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Omaha area nonprofits that deliver meals struggle with high fuel prices, inflation

Posted at 7:33 PM, Jun 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-27 20:33:15-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV)  — With fuel prices continuing to stay high, at almost $5 a gallon according to AAA, non-profits are cutting back to meet the costs of fuel and food.

Mike Kowaalczyk volunteers with the Society of St. Vincent De Paul Omaha, helping with the Holy Family pantry. He drives and delivers lunches to people living on the streets. High food prices have slimmed down what they can serve, delivering smaller portions.

"They've had to go from three lunches out in the street to people, down to two, just because there's more people out there and less to go around. People see that," Kowaalczyk said.

The Society of St. Vincent De Paul has a van that goes out five days a week to deliver food. The organization normally spends $900 a month on fuel, but its most recent purchase was $2,700 dollars. The expenses have a dramatic impact on the organization's ability to serve.

"It's wearing to wonder because we do depend on donations and we know our donations affect us as well, so their ability to help us diminishes," Executive Director Marty Smith said.

He says their food budgets have also increased. Already they've spent $20,000 more than they're used to spending.

Another organization that feels the effects of inflation and high fuel prices is Meals on Wheels. Connections Area Agency on Aging in Council Bluffs runs a Meals on Wheels program and they're paying at least 8% more on food.

"We have noticed with our food vendor, it's no fault of their own, their raw food costs are increasing and so we had to negotiate an increase in rate mid-contract, just so we could make sure we could continue to have meals for our clients," Connections Area Agency on Aging CEO Kelly Butts-Elston said.

Still, these financially-strapped times are motivating good-hearted volunteers to help out more.

"It's nice to be out talking to people at the door and on the street, looking them in the eye, and make them understand there's people that care about them," Kowaalczyk said.

Volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul here. For Meals on Wheels, click here.

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