Gas prices impact Meals on Wheels volunteers

Memphis organizers of the program that delivers meals to the homebound are looking for more volunteers
Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 5:34 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - We know the saying, no good deed goes unpunished. Now, these gas prices are making it tough for Mid South volunteers having to use their own cars.

Those with MIFA’s Meals on Wheels program in Memphis believe they’ll be able to retain their current volunteers, but gas prices may keep new volunteers from joining.

Steve Jett and his wife make their way to Memphis Inter Faith Association on Vance three times a week to bag up meals, and head out to deliver them to homebound residents. As part of MIFA’s Meals on Wheels, volunteers use their own vehicles on the routes.

For Jett, round trip is about ten miles.

“The routes we pick up occasionally are much longer if you pick up routes in Whitehaven or Frayser or Soulsville,” Jett said. “Those routes are a lot of more driving intensive.”

With gas nearing five dollars per gallon in Tennessee the miles and the dollars add up. But the Jett family’s commitment remains constant to this cause.

“My wife grew up with food and housing insecurity,” Jett said. “She’s a nurse practitioner by trade, so she could volunteer in another way but food insecurity is very important to her.”

Meals on Wheels organizers say that dedication is what keeps their volunteers around. Now, they fear gas prices will keep new volunteers from signing up.

Right now MIFA says it needs more volunteers for the program. Many volunteers are picking up several routes to cover.

While Jett’s commitment is unwavering, he is thinking of ways to cut costs while continuing giving back.

“I have a larger car, but my wife has a small Honda Fit which my wife uses a lot of times with deliveries. We were discussing that we may use the Fit more because we do notice the difference in gas,” Jett said.

They are small changes making a big different.

There are calls for Governor Bill Lee to temporarily suspend the gas tax in Tennessee. His office said he’s implemented other saving measures like a grocery tax moratorium, and there’s no plan for the same thing on the gas tax, at least for now.

His office said: “Governor Lee proposed the 30-day grocery tax suspension to provide direct relief to Tennesseans as nationwide cost-of-living continues to climb. We found that lifting the grocery tax is the most effective and efficient way to directly lower costs for individuals and families living in Tennessee.”

Tennessee’s state and local grocery sales taxes will be lifted for the entire month of August 2022, beginning on August 1 and ending August 31 at 11:59pm. Each household is unique, but to calculate savings, the state grocery tax is 4% and local grocery taxes vary.

In Shelby County, there is an additional 2.25% sales tax on groceries, with another 0.5% within the city of Memphis. Click here to read more.

Last week, the Governor also signed a bill to suspend the annual state vehicle registration fee for the next calendar year: “This will provide an additional $120 million in tax relief. These two initiatives are a starting point, and in the coming months, we will continue reviewing options to ease the burden on Tennesseans amid historic inflation.”

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