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Mobile Meals' food cost increases for the first time in 8 years

The nonprofit said they need $50,000 more dollars to serve the same number of customers as they do this year.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The nonprofit Mobile Meals said they will need $50,000 more to serve the people they currently serve because of the rising cost of food. 

Judith Pelot, the nutrition services director said that figure is before they factor in the cost of increasing gas prices. 

Mobile Meals delivers food to people over 60 who can't cook for themselves. They said the meal deliveries also serve as a wellness check. For many of their clients, the volunteers delivering meals are the only people they see every day. 

Pelot said her volunteers drive over 1,500 miles across Knox County every day. She expects the rising cost of gas will hurt Mobile Meals' budget. 

Mobile Meals reimburses volunteers who need it for gas. Pelot said as prices go up, the nonprofit will have to reimburse more drivers, or they'll have fewer volunteers. 

"Volunteers may not come out and volunteer as much," said Pelot. 

On Tuesday, Knox County Congressman Tim Burchett rode along with Mobile Meals. He agreed, the rising prices of food and gas could keep people from volunteering with the organization. 

"It's very cost-prohibitive," said Congressman Burchett. "A lot of the folks that deliver the meals...they're struggling themselves." 

Volunteer Frank Layton and his colleague Sam said they enjoy delivering meals to the people who need them. Layton said even if gas prices go too high, they will cut in other places to be able to volunteer.

"It's not a sacrifice to serve these people," said Layton. "Even if the gas prices doubled, I'd still be there." 

Mobile Meals said they deliver meals to over 1,200 people in Knox County. They ask for donations and volunteers on their website.

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