TUCSON, Ariz. — As a small non-profit agency, Mobile Meals depends on volunteer drivers to deliver food. However, many of its regular volunteer drivers are over the age of 70, and since the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, those drivers have canceled for fear of exposure.
"Many have no food on their shelves. So our service is critical for them to eat everyday,” said Jennifer Tersigni, the interim executive director of Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona.
She is talking about the clients mobile meals of southern Arizona serves. "People who cannot leave their homes to shop, to prepare meals and who need assistance,” said Tersigni.
In response to COVID-19, Mobile Meals is trying to continue its food services for hundreds of vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities experiencing food insecurity. But it is short of volunteer drivers to deliver that food; typcially, the organization has 250 drivers on hand.
"We are looking for people at this time to volunteer to drive, or for the first time we are going to pay drivers if we need to. In one week we need at least 150 drivers to deliver meals and we barely have that right now so lots of people are calling out,” said Tersigni.
For 50 years, Mobile Meals has provided daily meal delivery to many of its clients who have special diets due to medical conditions and end-of-life issues. Many clients are diabetic, or have special cardiac, renal, low potassium or other diets. Some clients event require soft diets or pureed food for their own survival. This is the reason why Mobile Meals partner with nine facility sites that freshly prepare a lunch and dinner daily, Monday through Friday.
"We've never seen this much of a transition. I mean on the flip side, we're actually seeing a transition with clients too. For every one cleint who cancels because now they're finding a different way, we have two people calling saying, 'Can I get meals tomorrow?' We had one woman call the other day and say, 'I'm really hungry.'" said Tersigni.
Mobile Meals is working with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and the American Red Cross of Southern Arizona, in addition to our nine current facility meal providers to deliver daily meals as well as shelf-stable food boxes to help people shelter in place should meal delivery be disrupted. Tucson Medical Center is Mobile Meals’ largest facility provider.
To become a volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (520)622-1600. To make a cash donation, visit www.mobilemealssoaz.org. Due to concerns about COVID-19 exposure, Mobile Meals will not accept food donations from the public at this time.