SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – As war wages on overseas, here at home Americans’ pockets continue to take a hit with soaring gas prices.
Gas prices are still rising. Everyone feels the impact but CNY non-profit organizations, which rely on vehicles, worry what these high prices could mean for their services.
Providence Services of Syracuse can not withstand the combination of the pandemic, high gas prices and labor challenges. This unique ride-to-work program, aimed at those with limited transportation options, will end operations barring new funds.
“I worked a little bit with the refugees , and I thought that’s horrible,” said Deborah Hundley, president of Providence Services. “How do people get jobs? The reason they don’t get a lot of jobs is because they can’t get transportation.”
According to Hundley, the Providence shuttle service has helped about 600 people. Hundley said the number of people using the service fluctuates. Lately it has been transporting about 30 workers daily.
“We proved that if there was that transportation, then they would have jobs and they could do good things and have a life,” Hundley said
Since 2018 the nonprofit has received about $565,000 in state grants designed to alleviate poverty in Central New York. Providence charges customers $6 a ride, which is much less expensive than a cab.
“I began to realize there is something in our country, in our communities, that people don’t know about unless you’re in it,” Hundley said.
The gasoline crisis has become Providence’s biggest crisis in recent years. With unaffordable gasoline prices, the Providence service decided to shut down all of its services in April, which will cause a lot of problems for city residents. Hundley has tried to alleviate the customer’s pain and still hopes Providence can provide shuttle services for these people in the future.
“I want them to be successful,” Hundley said. “I want them to have these lives. I want that more than anything.”
Officials at Meals On Wheels Of Syracuse also have been watching gas prices in recent months. Its services are also affected by gas issues.
“Whenever gas prices go up, it affects transportation costs,” said Mason Kaufman, Meals On Wheels Of Syracuse executive director.
Meals On Wheels is a not-for-profit that relies on volunteer drivers to deliver hundreds of meals to homebound Central New Yorkers Monday through Friday.
With 32 routes and upwards of 16 stops per route, hundreds of volunteers are using their own cars and their own gas each week to get fresh, warm meals to those in need.
“Last year we served about seven hundred uh, I think it was 730 people and delivered about 85,000 meals or something like that,” Kaufman said.
Kaufman said high gas price impact so many things, especially the daily food supply. However, Meals On Wheels is not increasing price for customers.
“The impact on us is high, higher prices for paying for the meals because we have to buy the meals as well,” Kaufman said. “And so our costs go up but we’re not raising our rates on the people we’re serving. We just have to raise more money.”
Meals On Wheels is relying on fundraising to fill the gap between what it actually costs to make the meals and what people would charge. Kaufman said the non-for-profit group needs more funds to break even and continue operating.
Due to the continued high gas prices, Meals on Wheels has exceeded its transportation budget by 30 percent.
“The cost our budget is somewhere in the $14.20 range. So we’re above that at as of March.”
The volunteer drivers for Meals on Wheels are also victims of this disaster. Kaufman said he hasn’t lost any volunteers to the high gas prices yet but he is not sure what will happen in the future.
“If gas prices remain high, all those drivers have to pay more money to get from one point to the other,” Kaufman said. “And that’s a burden on them; they’re volunteers.”
Elizabeth Carey of AAA Western and Central New York said she understands the inconvenience that high gasoline prices cause to people in Central New York.
“Now people they have to budget things because they have to spend so much money on gasoline, ” Carey said. “If they’re taking a road trip, it’s going to cost them more money. ”
Carey suggests people check the tire pressure on their cars to make sure it is at the right level. Also, use any grocery store discounts they may have to get cheaper gasoline, even download a mobile app to find the cheapest gas prices in your area
Although many CNY people were hoping the government could provide subsidies for daily gas expenses, Syracuse University Economy Professor Abdulaziz Shifa thinks subsidies won’t ease people’s current anxiety about gas prices
“Whatever subsidy that may be provided, or a significant portion of the subsidy, might be offset by increasing prices at the pump. Eventually subsidies might not help consumers, but the gas suppliers,” Shifa said.
Russia’s war against Ukraine is fueling the uncertainty of oil availability and its costs. CNY’s non-for-profit organizations have become the indirect victims of a situation across the ocean is will causing inconveniences to thousands of people living in CNY, in terms of travel and even daily food supplies.