HOUSTON - Rising heat and rising food and gas prices are putting extra pressure on senior citizens and an organization that serves them.
Interfaith Ministry for Greater Houston's Meals on Wheels program, for example, says inflation is driving more seniors to need their food delivery services.
Meals on Wheels is a lifeline for homebound seniors. It's a lifeline now even more so now, as more seniors need help. Spiking food and gas prices are making it hard for seniors on limited incomes to get by.
"Everything is too expensive right now," said senior Gumberta Garduno Perez.
It's a stress compounded by unforgiving summer heat, with thermometers topping 100 degrees.
"I’m warm from my lungs, and it's hard for me to breathe outside right now," said Perez.
According to Martin Cominsky, President, and CEO of Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, some low-income seniors don't run their air conditioning enough, afraid of running up high bills. He says they direct some seniors to utility assistance programs.
"We have to remind them their safety is crucial," said Cominsky. "They have to keep their homes at a temperature that is a safe temperature."
Meals on Wheels also brings fans and water to seniors who need them; and they say they haven't had to call 911, yet, this summer.
"Recently no, thank God," said Jason Salas, Manager of Meals on Wheels operations. "But in the past, there have been incidents where we've had to call an ambulance to help service a senior."
However, the rising food and gas prices are driving up costs for the meals, and the wheels, as frozen meals are trucked in from another state.
"At some point in the pandemic, it was a supply issue," said Cominsky. "Now it's a cost issue. Our costs are going up as much as a dollar a meal."
He says they've lost some volunteer meal delivery drivers, who are often seniors themselves.
"It’s hard to get volunteers who are willing to work in the heat, and spend their gas money to do it," said Cominsky.
He says donors are helping, but they still need more money, more food, and more volunteers, to help ensure more seniors are served in their hour of need.
"It’s good because I feel a little more safe," said Perez. "It helps me a lot."
If you’d like to donate or volunteer, you can reach out to Meals on Wheels.