Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona fully opened its new kitchen this week at the old El Indio building.

The group, which has been around for over 50 years, took over the property last month and became fully operational on Monday.

With the new space, they can service 400,000 meals every year to community members in need, like the elderly or those who are ill. Six hospitals in the area provided the food before the switch and could only cover about 100,000 meals annually.

Development Director Luke Smith said the demand has grown steadily over the years.

We like to say our mission is 50% compassion and 50% nutrition,” he said. “So, a big part of our organization, or what we do, is make sure that if people need food, that they have access to food.

Mobile Meals services are charged on an income-basis, with a Monday through Friday plan costing as little as $2 per day.

Long-time volunteers Ron and Helen Schindler moved from Wyoming in 2016 where they worked with Meals on Wheels, and they wanted something similar here.

“If you don’t volunteer for something, somehow, you’re really not [living],” Helen said. “Weve learned a great deal about the city and the peoplethe people here. And we like it.

The couple say their favorite part of the job is socializing with the customers who have become like family to them.

The main impact is just these people get to see somebody every day,” Ron said. “It’s kind of sad in a way, but its a good feeling to know that at least somebodys going to see them.”

“Yeah,” Helen added. “And they look forward to us. And we get the opportunity to see if theyre doing well, if they have a health issue that needs addressing.

And the Schindlers dont think theyll be quitting volunteer work any time soon.

I think well probably stick with it until we cant do it anymore,” Ron said.

“Yeah, until we become the recipients, Helen joked.

Mobile Meals hopes to open more kitchens in the future and eventually provide food on the weekends as the organization expands.