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Manatee Meals on Wheels needs more drivers

BRADENTON -- Think you'd like to volunteer to drive for Meals On Wheels PLUS?

More drivers are needed to help the non-profit agency provide nutritional assistance to people in their homes and centers throughout Manatee County.

The annual departure of winter residents has left it short-handed and more drivers will begin taking summer vacations.

According to Development Director Kristen Theisen, the agency has 250 volunteers driving during the season and it is down to 150 now.

"We'd like to have around 200 drivers," she said. "When we've got 50-55 routes a day to fill serving 500 people daily, we need help."

Some routes have only three stops, while others have as many as 15.

Consequently, numerous drivers take more routes to insure all meals are delivered.

"We could use more drivers so we can be as flexible as possible," Theisen said.

Gas prices, like other businesses, also have had an impact.

Fortunately, pump prices have gone down of late, a bit of a break for Meals On Wheels PLUS.

"We felt it when prices went up, but thankfully enough drivers have stayed on," Theisen said. "Many drivers don't take our mileage reimbursement, either, preferring to include that in their role as volunteers. We appreciate that immensely."

Meals are prepared at the Meals on Wheels PLUS kitchen, 811 23rd Ave. E., Bradenton, and delivered by volunteers between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The time requirement for delivering meals is approximately 1 to 1- 1/2 hours from one day per week up to all five days.

If you are interested, call Carol Schechterle at 941-747-4655.

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter:@vinmannix