Tri-County Meals On Wheels continues to struggle due to inflation

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Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 6:16 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 8, 2022 at 6:29 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Greg Gunnels, the president of Tri-County Meals on Wheels, said they’ve been having to use their emergency funds to stay afloat.

“If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we probably have about three more months to operate at the level that we are,” Gunnels said.

The Tri-County Meals on Wheels in Palestine covers three different counties, including Rusk, Anderson, and Cherokee.

“Because the gas prices have gone up, we actually lost a few drivers and a few people who were volunteering to drive because the gas prices are getting up to 5 dollars a gallon,” Gunnels said.

The executive Ruby Taylor, the non-profit’s executive director, said that they receive funds from The East Texas Council of Governments, but it only covers so much.

“About $18,000 has actually been brought in, and that sounds great until you consider the fact that even if we just have 12,000 meals going out at a $3 a meal shortfall, that’s still $36,000 so that’s just covering half the cost,” Gunnels said.

Gunnels said that when they do receive grants, it has to go towards maintenance and upkeep such as fixing the garbage disposal, car maintenance, and their cooler that recently went out.

Taylor said they’ve been applying for grants, but they have been getting denied.

Camille Graham, the homebound coordinator for Tri-county Meals on Wheel, said that their current drivers are working tirelessly to make up for the lack of volunteers.

”The reason why it’s costing so much is because everybody in this country doesn’t have the employees that we need so its lack of transportation getting the products where they need to go and that’s making the food cost higher,” Graham said.

Gunnels said if they could find 10,000 people to donate $8 a month through the Tri-county Meals on Wheels website, it would ensure the longevity of the program.

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