CBS: High Gas Prices Deadly For Sick & Elderly

Meals on Wheels Truck, CBS On Wednesday's CBS "Early Show," co-host Russ Mitchell declared: "The high cost of gas is hurting everyone these days. Families, businesses, and even charities. Many organizations that deliver food to the sick and elderly are being hit extra hard." In the report that followed, correspondent Kelly Wallace went even further: "In one rural California case, according to the president of Meals on Wheels nationwide, cutting back from daily deliveries to one every 14 days proved fatal. Two seniors were found dead."

The Meals on Wheels president, Enid Borden, explained that: "We have people who are literally dying in their homes waiting for a meal. That's a crisis." Wallace also played a clip of Maryland Meals on Wheels executive director, Tom Grazio, who worried: "Some day in the not too distant future, unless things get better, we'll be telling people they can't eat today and that's disheartening."

Wallace then described " a dire situation in New York City," where Meals on Wheels director Marcia Stein continued the melodramatic theme: "For the first time in our 25-year history, we are having to ration food. We're having to make tough choices about who gets a meal, who does not get a meal, what days somebody might be without food." From this report, one is under the impression that people are literally starving to death across the country due to high gas prices. In May, the "Early Show" described how one woman "...pumps out her own blood, making $40 a pop so she has enough money to pump gas."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

8:05AM SEGMENT:

RUSS MITCHELL: The high cost of gas is hurting everyone these days. Families, businesses, and even charities. Many organizations that deliver food to the sick and elderly are being hit extra hard. CBS News correspondent Kelly Wallace reports.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Meals on Wheels, Ruth.

WALLACE: In Baltimore, where Meals on Wheels delivers 3,500 meals every weekday to the elderly, the program's director is almost out of options. You're worried. Is that what I'm picking up? I mean-

TOM GRAZIO: Yeah, I am worried. Who wouldn't be.

WALLACE: With his food costs up 16%, his gas costs doubling, and no more fat to trim from the staff, Grazio may have to do the unthinkable.

GRAZIO: Some day in the not too distant future, unless things get better, we'll be telling people they can't eat today and that's disheartening.

WALLACE: According to a recent survey of Meals on Wheels programs around the country, 58% have lost volunteers due to rising gas prices. 38% have had to turn needy clients away. And nearly a third have cut back on the frequency of deliveries. In one rural California case, according to the president of Meals on Wheels nationwide, cutting back from daily deliveries to one every 14 days proved fatal. Two seniors were found dead.

ENID BORDEN: We have people who are literally dying in their homes waiting for a meal. That's a crisis.

WALLACE: It's a dire situation in New York City, too, where the city-run Meals on Wheels program faces higher food costs. As much as 60% higher for staples like orange juice.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B: This is juice for both today and tomorrow.

MARCIA STEIN: For the first time in our 25-year history, we are having to ration food. We're having to make tough choices about who gets a meal, who does not get a meal, what days somebody might be without food.

WALLACE: At God's Love We Deliver, which provides nutritious meals to the sick, in order to counter soaring food costs and ensure no one is turned away, they've had to change the way they shop.

KAREN PEARL: We just ordered 200 bags of rice. Don't ask me where we're going to store it, but 200 bags of rice because we found out that they're going up another $5 a bag.

WALLACE: Back in Baltimore, volunteer Joanne Lang says no matter how high gas prices climb, she'll still make her rounds.

JOANNE LANG: I can't imagine saying, 'sorry, I don't have the money for gas.' I just couldn't do that.

WALLACE: 93 1/2-year-old Ruth Gore is grateful.

RUTH GORE: Without Meals on Wheels, I couldn't be here by myself.

WALLACE: Kelly Wallace, CBS News, Baltimore.

GORE: Thank you for all your help.

MITCHELL: Non-profits are now pushing Congress to give a bigger tax deduction to those who drive their own vehicles for charities. It could be one small way to help a growing problem.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC