A $5,000 donation from a retail group is helping Mobile Meals of Toledo cope with high fuel costs.
Mobile Meals, which delivers more than 500,000 meals annually to elderly and homebound people, is facing transportation costs of about $1,800 a month up about 25 percent from last year to fuel its vehicles, Maureen Stevens, the agency s executive director, said.
The donation came from the more than 100 members of the Midwest Retailers Association, a group of convenience store owners in the Toledo area.
We did it from the bottom of our hearts, said Nabil Shaheen, a board member of the group. It was something we all agreed was a good cause.
High oil prices have pushed the price of gas upward for consumers as well as for a host of nonprofits and charities.
The average cost for a gallon of gas at midday yesterday was $3.673, according to the Web site www.toledogasprices.com, though, in recent months, the price has climbed to well over $4 a gallon.
A year ago, the price per gallon was $2.608, the Web site states.
Fuel prices have hit especially hard for Goodwill Industries of Northwest Ohio, a group that strives to give jobs to the disabled and others with employment barriers, said Bob Huber, the group s president and chief executive officer.
The agency had to lay off five people in April because of a combination of gasoline prices and cutbacks in state funding for work force development programs and other services.
Fuel was definitely a part of that, Mr. Huber said.
Goodwill has about a dozen trucks, trailers, and vans, many of which run on diesel fuel, which is substantially more costly than regular gasoline.
Diesel was between $4.39 and $4.49 a gallon yesterday afternoon, or about a dollar more than a gallon of the cheapest regular gas.
Goodwill is trying to double up on trips and make sure it is carrying the maximum load in its trucks in addition to finding new funding sources, Mr. Huber said.
Juanita Person, director of the Martin Luther King Center Kitchen for the Poor, 650 Vance St., which also delivers meals, said her group has had to cut back on its deliveries.
We had to make a decision to cut down, she said. We just couldn t afford to do all our pickups.
Deb Vas, executive director of the Toledo Seagate Food Bank, said her organization s fuel costs have increased 34 percent over the last fiscal year.
The food bank now spends about $2,300 on gasoline every month for its three trucks and two vans.
Luckily, she said, the food bank has an anonymous donor who has been adjusting donations to help pay for the increased costs.
Mobile Meals, which thus far has not had to cut back on any of its services, is fortunate because the agency s approximately 700 volunteers are willing to do a lot of driving, Mrs. Stevens said.
The agency plans to use the donation to fuel its large refrigerated truck for several months, and give gas cards to some volunteers to help offset their fuel costs.
Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop, who helped arrange the donation, said his grandmother received food from Mobile Meals before she died several years ago, so the program is close to his heart.
With the rising cost of fuel, businesses unlike a nonprofit can raise their prices to offset the increase.
Here, you can t raise the price for someone on a fixed income, Mr. Konop said.
In the meantime, Mr. Huber said, his agency and others will find ways to carry out their missions.
We just have to operate a lot leaner than we have in other years, he said. We can get through it, but it involves making some adjustments and hard decisions.
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