TUCSON, Ariz. — Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona is expanding its services due to three grants.
It received more than $133,000 from two FEMA grants and a Pima County grant from the CARES Act.
“Services are up almost 25%, so there's more people in need, and that's just since March 1. Certainly we had a number of people who felt that they were part of a high risk group who were volunteers and decided, and for many, it was a really difficult decision to decide not to volunteer any longer,” said Jennifer Tersigni, the interim executive director.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Mobile Meals went on a recruitment effort to find more volunteers. This new grant money is providing the company with a much needed boost.
“We've just seen a lot of shifts,” said Tersigni.
The funding will be able to help those who can’t afford the cost of a service, but need it. It will also allow the company to expand its services in a way it hasn’t before; serving more of the west and southwest sides of Tucson, and farther southeast to Vail and Corona de Tucson. Routes will also be added in Sahaurita and Green Valley.
“Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, If you look at the continued increase in the number of people who are aging in our community, coupled with people who have dietary needs, who have medical conditions, who can't shop or prepare their own food. You know, we knew that there was definitely gaps in service,” said Tersigni.
Tersigni said Mobile Meals is there to check up on folks daily while delivering meals, and says, the backbone of what the service provides is preparing special diet and medically tailored meals.
“As as the pandemic continues, we know the importance of not having to worry about where you’re foods going to come from. And we know that families, especially those caring for people who have various medical conditions - there is a lot of stress on families,” said Tersigni.
For those who can’t afford the delivery service, the money will allow Mobile Meals to offer its services at no additional charge for people in need. That benefit will be going on for as long as grant funds remain.