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Food Companies, Nonprofits Support Hurricane Relief

Specialty Food Association

Nonprofit relief organizations, chefs, restaurant operators and other food companies have begun providing relief for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Fiona.

The storm hit the island on Sunday, triggering widespread flooding and power outages, almost five years to the day after Hurricane Maria caused billions of dollars in damages.

Portsmouth, Virginia-based Mercy Chefs, a nonprofit established in 2006, has returned to Puerto Rico this week after establishing three community kitchens there following Hurricane Maria in 2017.

“An initial team of five Mercy Chefs team members traveled to Puerto Rico and will be cooking, serving and delivering meals and water and setting up water purification systems,” Gary LeBlanc, founder of Mercy Chefs, told SFA News Daily. “Additional logistics and deployment staff will arrive throughout the week.”

Many people on the island have no power or clean water, he said, which makes preparing food extremely difficult.

“Mercy Chefs is able to provide safe, hot meals for these communities utilizing generators to ensure refrigeration and time-and-temperature control in addition to water purification systems,” LeBlanc said.

Likewise, World Central Kitchen, a relief organization, founded by chef Jose Andres, said its team in Puerto Rico served 10,000 meals on Tuesday to families affected by Hurricane Fiona. The organization, which recruits local chefs and restaurants to provide food for those in need during natural disasters and other times of need, has also been providing sandwiches for people in the Dominican Republic, which had been hit by Hurricane Fiona before Puerto Rico.

In San Juan, the capital of the territory, World Central Kitchen’s Chefs for Puerto Rico team established a field kitchen at the Miramar food truck park, and elsewhere the team made massive batches of rice with sausage and vegetables in paella pans, according to social media posts.

Global Giving, a nonprofit that connects donors, companies and nonprofits around the world, is also working on providing food relief in Puerto Rico, including through its support of the Center for the New Economy (CNE) and Asociación de Comunidades Unidas Acción Solidaria (ACUTAS).

In the U.S. mainland, several restaurants have stepped up to provide relief for Puerto Rico this week, including Puerto Rican restaurant La Famosa in Washington, D.C., which is donating 10 percent of its coffee sales for the next four week to the PRxPR charity, the restaurant said in a Facebook post.

Qui Qui DC, another Puerto Rican restaurant in Washington, D.C., said it was donating proceeds from empanada sales to Brigada Solidaria Del Oeste, a Puerto Rico-based group providing hurricane relief.

In Worcester, Massachusetts, Puerto Rican restaurant Nuestra will donate a portion of its sales from its foodservice operations this week at the local minor league baseball stadium, Polar Park, to hurricane relief efforts, the restaurant said in a Facebook post.

Several food manufacturers have also stepped up to provide relief, including Coca-Cola and Goya Foods, both of which have operations in Puerto Rico.

“Goya de Puerto Rico is active in the production and distribution of the necessary food in these difficult times that the Puerto Rican people are going through after the passage of Hurricane Fiona,” the company said in a Twitter post. “Let us have courage, hope and faith. We will get ahead with the favor of God.”

LeBlanc of Mercy Chefs said donations of nonperishable goods from food companies “would go a very long way in expanding our relief efforts.” Companies looking to donate to Mercy Chefs can email [email protected] with Food Donation in the subject line or learn more about becoming a corporate partner on the Mercy Chefs website.

Also, World Central Kitchens can be reached here, and Global Giving here.

Related: Food Relief Efforts Underway in Puerto Rico; Kellogg, Albertsons Partner to Fight Hunger.

Image: Mercy Chefs