Hurricane Ian: World Central Kitchen, the Red Cross and other food-related ways to help
Hurricane Ian made landfall in southwest Florida on Wednesday as a monster Category 4 storm that decimated Fort Myers, Sanibel Island and many other parts of southwest Florida.
Thursday morning news footage showed torn bridges, houses submerged in water and the touristy seaside restaurants and souvenir shacks of Fort Myers beach. First responders are currently assessing the damage and attempting search and rescue missions.
And, as always, humanitarian organizations such as World Central Kitchen, the Red Cross, Feeding South Florida and Food Rescue US are gearing up to help feed the tens of thousands of people who are left without basic necessities like food, electricity and drinking water. hours of Miami creature comforts.
Fiona Donovan, World Central Cuisine‘s (WCK) director of relief operations, says the WCK team is currently in Tampa, preparing its field kitchens and food trucks to move to a site in Fort Myers. “Just knowing that an hour south of us is completely destroyed is hard to fathom,” she says.
She says the priority right now is identifying and assessing the places that are most in need. “Where are the elderly, the people in mobile homes, the people without electricity or fresh water? It all starts with need. That’s what we’re trying to address.” The WCK team will focus on cities between Tampa and Naples, with a concentrated effort in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Sarasota.
Donovan also relies on local restaurant and food truck owners to help out, as well as local volunteers. “We will be organizing a coordinated effort to mobilize food trucks. We also need local volunteers to help bring food to shelters that need support and to communities where the power is out, people to help clean up , etc.,” she said. said. Volunteers do everything from making sandwiches to cooking giant portions of paella to delivering food.
For people in Miami who want to help, Donovan says the best ways are to support the operation through volunteer work and donations. “We expect this to be a large-scale operation. This Category 4 hurricane is one of the worst in Florida history.”
For those interested in volunteering, there is a registration page on WCK’s website. There are opportunities for chefs, delivery drivers and general helpers. Donations can also be made through the website. Food truck owners can leave a message at 202-844-6330. A food truck coordinator will return the call.
Donovan says while WCK prepares to help people in Florida, teams are still in Ukraine, Puerto Rico, the Turks and Caicos Islands and elsewhere. Every place is different and people have different needs. On Sanibel Island, for example, WCK crews have been trying to deliver food to people by helicopter and ship since the mainland causeway was destroyed. “Every context is so different and presents different challenges. But no matter where we are, the connection is through food.”
Feeding South Florida is deploying team members to Southwest Florida. The Harry Chapin Food Bank, the largest hunger relief network in the South West region, has no power. Feeding South Florida is the nearest food bank and has been asked to step in and help. He sends a generator to the Chapin Food Bank.
The Feeding South Florida operations team loaded a 36-foot trailer with water, ready-to-eat meals and snacks to deliver supplies to families in affected towns and cities. The first truckload of supplies was delivered to Island Coast High School yesterday afternoon. So far, around 4,000 meals have been delivered, and another 3,000 are being prepared per day. To donate to Feeding South Florida, visit foodsouthflorida.org.
Food Rescue US Southwest Florida also assists in obtaining food, if needed. The association only recovers edible food and does not accept monetary donations. If you are a store or vendor in Southwest Florida that has edibles to pick up or would like to volunteer your time, visit foodrescue.us.
Finally, the American Red Cross of Southwest Florida is on the ground to help with the rescue. If you would like to make a donation or organize a fundraiser, visit redcross.org. If you live in southwest Florida and need help, call the American Red Cross hotline at 1-800-RED-CROSS.