Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Hundreds of people rely on them for a hot lunch, but Meals on Wheels is facing a serious shortage of volunteers to deliver food next week.
The charity always needs extra help during the holidays, but workers are more worried this year.
Three days a week, Meals on Wheels recipient Lois Lum and her husband Allen get a break in the kitchen.
“The days that we had Meals on Wheels coming was quite a relief,” Lois said.
The couple began getting deliveries roughly a year ago and looks forward to regular visits from the volunteers.
“Lois says she gets a back ache a lot of times doing the dishes, so this is a big help to avoid doing the dishes,” Allen added.
Behind every meal, three volunteers are needed: someone to prep the food, a driver and a carrier to deliver the goods. With a shortage of help each week, the group is relying on paid staff more than ever. During the holidays when people are shopping and spending time with family, the deficit is harder to overcome. A third of the delivery routes on the days before and after Thanksgiving do not have volunteers yet.
"It’s concerning, because we have about 400 recipients on 32 different routes who, just in the Syracuse area, who rely on these meals,” said Nancy Ranieri with Meals on Wheels.
The Lums are grateful for every new bite, the time they get to spend with volunteers each week, and the savings each meal offers.
"It's also money you've got for medication and your home or whatever else you have to spend money on to keep yourself going,” Allen said.
Meals on Wheels needs volunteers all next week, particularly on Wednesday and Friday. They’d like 20 more drivers each afternoon and five extra people to prep the food in the morning.
"You don't know how badly you'll be needing it yourself,” Lois said.
“That's right. You just might be there yourself someday,” Allen continued.
If you can help prepare or deliver meals, call 478-5948 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.