Mercy Chefs, the Virginia-based disaster relief and humanitarian aid group, reached a magnificent milestone this month by serving its 10 millionth meal.
The nonprofit organization, founded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, has served professionally prepared restaurant-quality meals to victims and first responders in 27 states and 10 countries, responding to more than 134 disasters.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, the nonprofit organization has distributed 7 million meals with the help of 10,000 community volunteers.
They recently moved to Dallas, Texas, where severe cold weather left millions without electricity, water or food, and began serving meals yesterday.
“When our friends at Gateway Church called for our help, we immediately said ‘yes,'” the group said on its website.
“We have now transported our commercial grade resources, including industrial power generators and water filtration systems, to serve the residents of the Dallas / Fort Worth area as they recover from this terrible winter storm.”
Founder Gary LeBlanc was driven to action by what he witnessed while volunteering in his hometown of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. “The devastation was so intense and widespread. I saw firsthand the incredible difference a hot meal could make. “
But with 35 years in the hospitality industry, he was concerned about the quality of the food that was served.
“I was inspired to the point of distraction by the idea of serving high-quality food in a disaster area. Little did I know how far that distraction would lead … and Mercy Chefs now has three mobile kitchens and two refrigerated trailers. “
“Reaching this milestone, 10 million meals, is just extraordinary,” LeBlanc said. “The past year has been a devastating one for many people and we feel blessed to have been able to play a small role in bringing comfort to people through food. We couldn’t have gotten here without our amazing staff, volunteers and donors answering the call to serve others. “
The group uses coronavirus response distribution locations it has established across the country, where Mercy Chefs works with food distributors and volunteers to supplement the USDA Family Farmers Food Box Program with more meals.
Mercy Chefs has also served free food to hospital workers in recent months who are on the front lines of the pandemic in Hampton Roads, Virginia, and Panama City, Florida.
In addition to COVID-19 relief, Mercy Chefs was deployed to locations in 2020 following natural disasters, including Hurricanes Hanna and Laura, right in Iowa, and the recent tornado in Alabama. Mercy Chefs has repeatedly returned to Panama City to serve those still affected by Hurricane Michael.
To support and learn more about Gary and his Mercy Chefs, visit www.mercychefs.com.
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