Mobile Meals of Tucson’s mission statement is to meet the special nutritional needs of the homebound in their community at an affordable cost. They are a non-profit organization staffed primarily by volunteers. The program was founded in 1970 in Tucson with eight routes and four facilities serving 40 clients. By 2000, Mobile Meals is operating with 29 routes and more than 100,000 meals from nine facilities. They continue to recruit facilities each year to assist them in increasing meals to the homebound as the need in the community increases.
The primary purpose of the program is to provide palatable meals that supply nutrients to an individual who is unable to prepare or obtain adequate meals during a period of need. Their service is for all persons who would benefit, regardless of race, age, income and ability. It is not the purpose of Mobile Meals to create dependence. When a recipient is physically and emotionally able to care for himself or herself, his or her meals are discontinued until further need is established.
The object of Mobile Meals is to help maintain or restore the individual’s health. To increase and maintain the highest state of independence possible for the elderly, ill and disabled, and to hasten recuperation after leaving the hospital or extended care facility. Meals are provided by the hospitals and healthcare facilities in Tucson and in turn, Mobile Meals pays these facilities for the meals. Volunteer drivers deliver two meals a day – lunch and supper – Monday through Friday each week. Mobile Meals of Tucson does not receive government funding and is not a United Way member agency.
Mobile Meals provides only special diet meals prescribed by a physician, which they order from a hospital or healthcare facility. Furthermore, they do not have an age restriction so funding is not available for the program through the Older Americans Act. The board and volunteers decided to remain a privately funded agency.
There are currently 300 volunteers in various capacities. The drivers deliver meals and substitute drivers fill in as needed. The driver coordinators organize routes and assign drivers, the nurses do medical assessments, and interpreters assist the nurses and office staff. In addition to this, the clerical workers run the day-to-day operation of the agency. There are only two paid positions in the agency: Executive Director and Dietitian.
Mobile Meals grew from a need seen in the community by the doctors and nurses of Tucson. They are a grass roots organization that always make a positive out of a negative and turn problems into success stories. This program is a unique and valuable asset to the Tucson community.