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'We are struggling' | Gas prices driving volunteers away from non-profits

Increased cost of living and gas prices are driving up demand for food but non-profits are losing volunteers.

SAN DIEGO — For weeks, drivers have felt a pinch at the pump and this burden is taking its toll on non-profits trying to help people facing food insecurity

Meals on Wheels relies on volunteers who drive their own cars and use their own gas to deliver meals. The high cost of gas has created a major hurdle for the organization. 

"As you can imagine during the past few weeks that has become difficult,” said volunteer Kathleen O'Toole. “A lot of our volunteers are retired and many of us are on fixed incomes." 

O'Toole has volunteered for Meals on Wheels for nearly two decades. She said the gas prices have forced some people to stop delivering and made it more challenging to recruit. 

"We are struggling. We have to get more volunteers and it has become a problem. For me, this is number one on my budget list. I will always prioritize this,” she said. 

Credit: CBS 8

Jewish Family Service of San Diego has seen the demand for food climb with a 20% increase in need from the community over the past few months. 

"For a lot of people this is their first time coming out and asking for food and that's really in response to the increased gas prices and increased cost of living,” said Kristine Stensberg, the Senior Director of Nutrition and Aging for Jewish Family Service of San Diego. 

This comes as assistance from CalFresh, the nutrition security program, is expected to decrease. 

The San Diego Hunger Coalition said families have been getting the maximum amount of food assistance since early in the pandemic. The organization expects this aid to drop in the next month or two based on the public health emergency being lifted. 

A family of four who is currently getting around $800 a month for groceries could see that amount drop by about half, according to the San Diego Hunger Coalition. 

CBS 8 is working to find out what other food assistance might be available in the community. 

Find information about local food distributions and senior meals here.

WATCH RELATED: Jewish Family Service pack hundreds of meals for families; need volunteers (March 2022).


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