STORY: Kitchen’s Closed, but Dinner is Still Served

Sandy Relief

A month after hurricane Sandy, the American Red Cross still provides vital support to thousands of people whose homes are destroyed, damaged or without power, but changes in Red Cross operations show significant progress toward recovery.

In New Jersey, after dispensing millions of hot meals daily to anyone needing them at shelters, community centers or street level from Red Cross emergency response vehicles (ERVs), the focus is more concentrated on specific people or neighborhoods still unable to meet the urgent need for food and water on their own.

“Rather than hot meals, we’re loading the ERV with pre-packaged meals, plus water and blankets that’ll be distributed through a community partner,” said volunteer Jill Franklin of Houston, Tex. “This load is going to a church hall in Keyport that also serves people from surrounding areas like Union Beach,” she added, as she passed another box to driver Joe Luna, also from Houston.

Many of the hot meals were made fresh at a mobile kitchen in Waretown, NJ, operated by a Red Cross partner, the Southern Baptist Convention. Its team, mostly from Georgia, was known simply as Kitchen 3, one of six that supported the relief effort.

As Convention volunteers packed up their nearly month-long operation – including thousands of hot turkey dinners over the Thanksgiving period – Red Cross personnel co-located with them also began to scale back, but not before taking care of one important detail.

“We will never forget you, Jersey Shore,” read hand-written signs, punctuated with a heart and signed, “ARC Kitchen #3,” as about 40 members of the American Red Cross team posed for a photo before many of them moved to other sites to continue the Red Cross relief effort.

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