Mobile Meals operating out of new kitchen, partnerships with organizations help keep staff and kitchen fully equipped

Published: Jul. 7, 2023 at 10:26 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Mobile Meals purchased El Indio Mexican Restaurant two years ago, but due to the pandemic, construction was delayed. Renovations started this past December, and the office finally got its occupancy permit weeks ago.

Their health certificate came in just one week ago, and the crew was hard at work to equip and stock their kitchen as fast as they could. Nutritionists and chefs will work together to provide almost half a million meals a year to those in need.

Those meals include numerous diets, from vegan and pescetarian to medical diets like low sodium and meals for cancer patients.

Despite the number of meals needed, the only pressure the staff feels is making sure everyone is fed.

“Everything else is details,” said Luke Smith. Smith is the development director of Mobile Meals.

“Can we make the food? Yeah. Do we have the team? Yeah. We want to make sure that anybody knows someone who needs our services, there’s no reason anyone should go hungry with a kitchen like this.”

There are still some loose ends that need tending.

Supplies like silverware and the bulk of their food haven’t been ordered yet. However, partnerships with companies like TEP are helping to solve that issue.

TEP is matching donations up to 25 thousand dollars to help get Mobile Meals fully stocked and prepped.

Mobile Meals also partnered with credit unions all around Tucson.

During the summer months, the number of volunteers tends to decline, but luckily, credit union employees are stepping up to deliver meals. Bria Obara from Vantage West is the coordinator of the partnership, and she says clients appreciate more than just food.

“You know it’s one thing to sit behind a computer and arrange logistics and everything else, but it’s a whole different thing to really get out there and meet the people and see the impact,” said Bria Obara, a project manger at Vantage West Credit Union. She is also the coordinator for the partnership and credit unions.

Clients appreciate interacting with volunteers, as some of them may be isolated and have had to sacrifice quite a bit. Smith Meals says it’s fifty percent meals and fifty percent compassion.

Richard Larry, a sous chef at Mobile Meals, says the interactions with clients were the best part.

“I started here about a month ago and in that time, I was helping do deliveries and I find that that was their bright spark of the day,” Larry said. “You can just see them light up and get so happy.”

To learn more about volunteering or receiving meals from Mobile Meals, click here.

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