KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — Every weekday, Knox County's Mobile Meals Kitchen delivers food to homebound senior citizens across the area. It can't be done without their volunteers,
"We do it every Thursday,” said Cathy Sergeant, a volunteer for Mobile Meals in Knox County.
Sara Keel, who oversees the volunteer, said there has been a decrease in new people signing up to make deliveries. She said she noticed the number of volunteers dropping as gas prices went up.
“So as those gas prices increase, it's likely affecting the number of volunteers that we're seeing, [stopping] new volunteers to sign up for us,” she said.
Keel says they usually train around 60 new volunteers every month. But in May, she said they only saw 21 people train to deliver meals — only around a third of its previous force.
The cost of food may also add to the challenges that Mobile Meals is facing, forcing them to pay more so seniors can eat routine meals.
"With inflation and everything else, we'll need about $50,000 more to serve the same amount of people over the next year,” said Keep.
Through it all though, some people are still dedicated no matter how expensive gas gets.
“We have people willing to step up and help us and make sure that those meals get out to who they need to go to,” said Keel.
Anyone who wants to volunteer can reach out online or call the Office on Aging at 865-524-2786. They can also email the office at firstname.lastname@example.org for volunteer opportunities at several different programs.