Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma to increase fuel budget after hike in fuel costs

TULSA, Okla. — While drivers are feeling the pinch at the pump right now and may have the option of cutting back on their mileage, non-profits who rely on semis and large box trucks fueled by diesel are really taking a hit.

On Wednesday, FOX23 spent time with John Mankin, the Director of Transportation and Safety at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma where they work with 400 partner agencies to distribute food in 24 counties in Eastern Oklahoma.

It’s a monumental task, and the trucks they’re driving all run on diesel gas, whose price is skyrocketing right now according to Mankin.

He said his supplier informed him that as of Tuesday, the cost of diesel has increased .39 cents a gallon. Mankin’s fleet, which includes two semis and six 26-foot box trucks, all require diesel fuel.

“We were paying $5.15 a gallon for fuel when I called my distributor today,” Mankin said, “we’re up to $5.54 a gallon.”

Mankin said last June they were only paying $2.97 a gallon for diesel. The 18-wheeler that pulled up on Wednesday afternoon with a load of fresh produce from the Walmart Distribution Center in Ochelata had a 110-gallon tank on one side of the truck, and held a 70-gallon gas tank on the other side.

In addition, the refrigerated trailer has a 50-gallon gas tank that has to be filled in order to operate.

“These trailers are equipped with refrigeration units because we’re taking meat and produce we have to keep that stuff fresh and it takes energy to do that,” Mankin said. “Everything that we do transportation wise is very fuel intensive.”

When it’s all said it done, it costs more than $1,200 to fuel up the one semi-tractor trailer.

They also use another 18-wheeler and six box trucks to distribute food products.

As a non-profit, the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma doesn’t have the option of adding a fuel sur charge, but they do have to pay one when they contract out for trucks.

“We have to keep serving our clients and our guests make sure that they’re fed,” he said, “and so we just absorb those costs and we just have to put our fund raising team to work and they do a really good job of keeping us on the road.”

He adds that they are increasing their fuel budget by 25% over the next twelve months.

Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma driver Ron Fryhover had a busy morning picking up food products from six stores before pulling into the parking lot of Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma, their biggest partner.

“It gets about 8 miles to the gallon,” Fryhover said when asked about his gas mileage, “I run about 80 miles a day.”

On Wednesday Fryhover picked about 6,000 pounds of food for distribution, despite the rising costs associated with keeping his diesel-powered truck on the road.

When asked if he ever thought he would see diesel prices climb to $5.54 a gallon, Mankin replied:

“Never in my wildest dreams, never, it’s uh unbelievable.”

On Wednesday we also spent some time at “The Market” at Catholic Charities, a new grocery pantry that is set up like a grocery store, offering guests who qualify the opportunity to shop for a variety of produce, bread, meat and dairy items at no charge.

Tim Neuman, Director of Client Food Services for Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma, described what he’s seeing regarding the number of guests they’re serving right now.

“It’s been steady,” he remarked when asked about their recent numbers after opening on April 20th, “again I wouldn’t say it’s overwhelming, but we’re seeing a steady increase coming through.”

Neuman said they’ve provided about 4,000 families with groceries since opening back in April.

We spoke with a first time shopper, Ladonna Moore, who works a full time job and is also caring raising her 9-year old granddaughter about how she’s being squeezed financially right now:

“By the gas prices, it takes me $60 to fill up my tank,” she noted, “don’t know how long that’s going to last, I go into a store, the prices is so high, you try to figure out how you’re going to do it.”

For more information on The Market at Catholic Charities, just click on this link: https://cceok.org/food.