Heartbreak In Denver

"It's heartbreaking."

That's how Jim White describes what the combination of high gas prices and high food prices is doing to the group Volunteers of America. I visited their center in Denver, and watched as dozens of people prepared meals of chicken, mashed potatoes, and broccoli. The covered plates get loaded into a truck, sent out and delivered to those most in need, free of charge (you might know this kind of program by the name "Meals on Wheels").

The average age of people who get these lunches is now 86. For them, a hot, healthy meal would have been impossible otherwise. They are homebound and on very tight incomes. But it's not just the food that's important; it's the human contact. For many of the 1,800 people who get a meal each afternoon, the person who knocks on their door and hands them the food is the only person they'll see all day.

White, who's been working for Volunteers of America for 29 years, told me it now costs $6 to get each hot meal out. That's an all-time high.

Because they're spending so much to buy the food and to gas up the big white vans that carry the meals, the local Volunteers of America isn't able to add more people to its delivery route; they simply don't have the money for it. And, White assures me, there are people in need. There are 300 people on their waiting list.

"It's intolerable to have elderly people who have given so much of their life to us, to not be able to give them a simple meal at home," White told us.

Before he can expand his routes, the organization either needs to raise more money, get more volunteers, or spend less, and the latter won't happen until the price of food or gas goes down.

Jim White isn't holding his breath.
  • Jeff Glor

    Jeff Glor was named anchor of the Sunday edition of the "CBS Evening News" in January 2012 and Special Correspondent for "CBS This Morning" in November 2011.

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