Volunteering FAQs

Q: Do I have to qualify to volunteer?
A: The only qualification is a willingness to serve Erie’s seniors, a valid driver’s license, and auto insurance.Q: Is anyone paid to deliver meals or shop for groceries?
A: No. 100% of Meals On Wheels Erie clients are served by caring volunteers.

Q: How many volunteers do you have?
A: We have a wonderful team of over 130 active volunteers who deliver meals and shop and deliver groceries. But we are always looking for additional team members to cover the natural ebb and flow of volunteers.

Q:When would I volunteer?
A: Hot meals are delivered anytime between 10:00AM and Noon. Generally, volunteers pick up meals around 9:45AM at their pick up sites. Grocery shopping is done between 8AM and dark Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and sometimes Saturdays if the volunteer agrees. We take grocery orders on Mondays and Tuesdays and match up clients and volunteers after that depending on volunteer schedules.

Q: If I deliver meals, where do I pick up the meals?
A:  We have three meal staging areas depending on which route you are delivering. One is at St. Martin Center at 17th and Parade Sts., one is at GECAC at 8th and Peach, and one is at Northwest Savings Bank on East Lake Road in Harborcreek.

Q: Where do I go to grocery shop?
A: We shop only at the six Giant Eagle stores in Erie County. Depending on where the client lives and where you live, we try to match up the shortest routes. If you live in Edinboro, for instance, you’ll only get Edinboro clients to shop for and deliver to.

Q: What if I can’t deliver meals on certain days?
A: We are happy to work with you and your schedule. Only want Thursdays? No problem. Just the second Tuesday of every month? We can work with you. Also, if you need to call off at any time, give us reasonable notice and we will find a sub for your route. One day we may call you and ask if you could sub for another volunteer.

Q: Do I need to provide anything to deliver meals?
A:  We ask that you bring along a couple of coolers to put your meals in…one for hot entrées and one for the cold bags. You are more than welcome to use ours but we need you to return them after you deliver.

Q: Do you provide directions to homes I deliver to?
A: You are given names and addresses of each client on your route. We have route optimization software so you can get a custom map for your route with turn-by-turn directions. Volunteers who have recently moved to Erie can use our custom driving maps not knowing any streets at all. If you want to return home after you deliver we will enter your home address for your last stop. If you borrow our coolers, we can build a circular route so you can return them after you deliver. It couldn’t be easier!

Q: How much time does it take to deliver meals?
A: Every route is different and clients change over time. It usually takes about 1 1/2 hours on longer routes. Some clients are in apartment buildings where you make one stop but deliver two or more meals. We are constantly working to create routes that maximize speed from kitchen to client and reduce the amount of delivery time on each route. Grocery shopping depends on the size of the grocery list but delivering to one home makes it pretty fast.

Q: Where are the meals made?
A: We use two kitchens. St. Martin Center at 17th and Parade and GECAC at 8th and Peach.

Q: What if I prefer not to drive? Can I still help?
A: Of course! We will match you up with a driver and you can be the server. The driver gets you to the address and you deliver the meal to the door. Everyone can help in our team environment! This is especially great for children or grandchildren.

Q: Can you help out with gas?
A: We reimburse for mileage from your home and back. You can choose our “Business Rate” of 51 cents per mile which is designed to pay for all automobile expenses (gas, repairs, tire wear, insurance, etc.) or the IRS Volunteer Rate of 14 cents per mile designed to reimburse for gas only. It’s up to you. About a third of our volunteers submit for reimbursements. Those who do not, choose to either donate their miles or they track their mileage throughout the year and deduct directly on their tax forms. Mileage reimbursements are paid monthly.

Q: What kind of folks are best suited to be volunteers for Meals On Wheels?
A: Anyone who is compassionate about Erie seniors should consider volunteering. Volunteers are those people who are available between 10AM and Noon weekdays. Other than that, here are some descriptions of those who deliver for us right now:

  • Solo drivers who both drive and deliver meals to the door.
  • Husband and wife teams are popular.
  • Companies who can field a team of up to eight employees can “adopt” a route and deliver each week of the month with a two person team (each employee would volunteer one time per month).
  • Two friends can get out and help out.
  • We have several Resident Life Assistants from Erie agencies who take their clients out to deliver meals. We call these Caregiver Teams.
  • You are most welcome to bring along your kids or grand kids to help you deliver meals. What a great way to instill the value of volunteering in young people!

Q: Can I help out in the kitchen packing meals?
A: We contract our kitchens so we have no control over their help. At this time, however, they do not use volunteer help.

Q: Do you accept court mandated service hours?
A: Since our volunteers are unsupervised we cannot provide court mandated service hours.

We believe volunteering should be uncomplicated and rewarding!

Call us at (814) 452-6930 between 8AM and 4PM and ask for Wendy, our Volunteer Coordinator, or use this handy contact form:

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