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      Sarah D: Gas got you down?

      When a food supplier for the Hannibal Nutrition Center gave notice of a new fuel surcharge for deliveries, Executive Director Debbie Catlett refused it. As simple as that.

      I called the president of the company and said, ~I TMm not getting any more money for meals, and I can TMt give you any more money for fuel, TM Catlett said. Pretty gutsy of her, but as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures. The surcharge only amounted to $41 dollars a month, not much in a $1-million-plus budget, but every bit helps.

      The high cost of fuel is adding to everyone TMs burden. The cost keeps getting bumped down the line to the end consumer. Most people who get home-delivered meals are barely getting by. They only give what they can afford, which is generally less than a dollar a meal. With cuts on the state and federal level, and local donations down, the Hannibal Nutrition Center is struggling like many of us.

      We have less staff, we have higher costs, donations are down and times are hard, said Catlett.

      The drivers who travel 284 miles a day to deliver 350 meals are certainly feeling the pinch. They get reimbursed 34 cents a mile. The going rate for the federal government is 51 cents. Catlett has started giving $30 fuel cards to the drivers every couple weeks, but that doesn TMt help much with gas at around $3.40 a gallon. All I can do is say, ~I TMm sorry, TM

      What steps are you taking to cut your budget to free up money for gas? As the experts are telling us the economy is improving, does it seem things are just getting harder here in the Midwest? Do you have any money saving ideas? Let me know.

      Take care ~Sarah D.