Mercy Chefs, a non-profit organization based in Virginia, headed to Texas to serve warm meals amidst bitter temperatures. The storm left many Texans trapped in their homes without power or water. What began as an inconvenience quickly turned into a deadly situation. Many had to weather the storm in sub-freezing temperatures, going without food for days.
Mercy Chefs serves warm meals to citizens throughout the country who have recently faced disasters. Before coming to Dallas, Texas, they provided disaster relief in Alabama after a devastating tornado struck the suburbs of Birmingham. In the past, they’ve also helped communities recover after hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters.
Who’s Behind Mercy Chefs?
The nonprofit began in 2006 when founder Gary LeBlanc witnessed the destruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He said while volunteering in New Orleans, he noticed the widespread and intense devastation throughout the city. The storm had left the city in ruins, and Gary felt compelled to help somehow. He knew hot meals could make a huge difference, but felt “outraged by the quality of food being served.”
However, after working in the hospitality industry for 35 years, he had plenty of experience serving food. He combined his expertise with the strong desire to help people, and Mercy Chefs came to life. To date, they’ve served over 10 million meals, reaching the milestone earlier this month. The chefs now have three mobile kitchens and two refrigerated trailers.
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The team serves restaurant-quality food cooked by chefs to citizens and first responders after natural disasters. They’ve responded to 134 disasters thus far in 27 states and 10 countries. Since the pandemic began last March, Mercy Chefs has prepared over 7 million meals.
After the winter storm devastated Texas, they didn’t think twice about helping out.
Mercy Chefs heads to Texas to ‘feed body and soul’ after the destructive storm
On their website, the organization said: “This is a natural disaster as severe as any hurricane, tornado, or wildfire. In some ways, a weather event like this is even more destructive, leaving millions without electricity, water, food, and other vital resources for an extended period of time and causing widespread damage to homes, businesses, and community infrastructures. Approximately 10 million Americans in Texas alone are suffering—and even dying—from the cold.”
“When our friends at Gateway Church called to ask for our help, we immediately said “yes.” They requested all the support we could muster because conditions are so desperate in Texas. Mercy Chefs is on the way with delicious hot meals to feed body and soul. We’re bringing everything we can to bless the people of Texas. We’ll be serving our first meals by Friday (2/19).”
They began serving hot meals from a large mobile kitchen at Gateway Church North Fort Worth Campus last week. The team served both lunch and dinner to the community, distributing food from multiple locations. Mercy Chefs utilized several kitchens in order to prepare meals to distribute to citizens. They also have been working to provide clean drinking water to those who need it throughout Texas.
“While our USDA Farmers to Families grocery box distributions and community kitchen programs continue throughout the country to bring winter storm relief nationwide, we’re now transporting 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 vicious winter storm.”
Gary says they’ve never seen such a need for warm meals and disaster relief before, not even after Hurricane Katrina. By last Wednesday, Mercy Chefs had received 20 requests for help from Dallas all the way to Oklahoma. They have kept getting requests throughout the week and will answer as many as they can.
The Texas winter storm left people without access to food and hot meals
Mercy Chefs served over 40,000 meals in the aftermath of the winter storm
According to their Facebook page, the volunteers served the last of their chef-prepared meals on February 24. With the aid of 700 new volunteers, the team prepared over 40,000 meals for Texans in need. As the state’s water and power came back on, citizens felt a sense of normalcy returning. Before Mercy Chefs left, however, they made sure to stock up their storehouses with essentials for those still struggling.
They also purchased grocery boxes for distribution by church partners throughout the state. The team saw volunteers of all ages coming out to help, from children to older adults.
Here are some of the heartwarming posts from their Facebook about lives they’ve touched during the crisis:
- “Update from Chef Gary at an assisted care facility in Keller, TX. These seniors were without power for four days in this extreme cold, and tonight they’re still without clean water. Tonight, we delivered our hot, chef-prepared meals and drinking water and a little bit of hope and sense of normalcy.”
- “Yesterday alone we served well over 10,000 hot, handcrafted meals made with love. From elderly care facilities to a mile-long distribution drive-thru line, we have seen great need here. Today, we worked to expand our outreach in hopes of making a greater impact to serve as many people across the Dallas/Ft. Worth area as we could.”
- “Yesterday, Christian Center in Fort Worth reached out asking for meals to distribute at their church. We delivered a thousand Mercy Chefs meals to them, and within just one hour, all of them had been served! Although the weather has warmed, the need has not let up in Texas. Thank you to all of our volunteers and partners who have stepped up to help us serve.”
Final thoughts: non-profit organization Mercy Chefs delivers hot meals and hope to weary Texans
Without the kindness and love of organizations like Mercy Chefs, millions of people would’ve been without food. The team of chefs risked their own lives traveling on icy roads to help those in need. Throughout the week, they served thousands of people all across the state.
However, without your support, they couldn’t continue to serve. If you’d like to donate to their organization, you can do so here.