How we're meeting the COVID-19 challenge

I want to share with you more details regarding how Mercy Chefs is responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

As I'm sure you can imagine, providing meals during a crisis like this is a significant challenge. I noted to you a few days ago that we are preparing our meals in microwaveable containers so those receiving the meals can conveniently heat them up when they are ready to eat. This has created an additional cost. But that's just one aspect of what we're doing to protect our staff, our volunteers and those receiving our meals.

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Two challenges this week...

As the nationwide shutdown of businesses and school increases, we are facing some challenges.

First, because of the special microwaveable containers (pictured here) we are using as we tailor our response to the special safety needs of this crisis, the cost of each meal is now about $3.50. That means we need to raise an additional $1,000 or more every day just to serve the same number of meals.

My more serious challenge is the scope of the need. Right now, if we had the resources to bring on another shift of workers, add some much-needed kitchen equipment and deploy one of our mobile kitchens, we could prepare as many as 7,500 meals a day -- about tripling our capacity.

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"Most difficult time I have ever seen"

Our national coronavirus crisis seems to be worsening by the day. This week alone, we've prepared over 12,000 meals and the demand will continue for the foreseeable future.

I'm asking every Mercy Chefs friend to partner with us in a special way right now so we can continue to provide chef-prepared, nutritious meals to hurting families, needy children and elderly folks who have been shut in by this virus pandemic. Go here now to make your best possible tax-deductible gift to Mercy Chefs, and see below for more details.

 

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Coronavirus crisis: need help

These past few days have been quite a rush as we mobilize our resources in response to the coronavirus crisis.

In Panama City, we're still serving meals daily to needy children as the uncertainty of this crisis settles in on a community that is still recovering from a hurricane that hit a year and a half ago. I recently saw a report of just school teacher and employees who still needed help with repairs on their homes. It broke my heart. And now, more uncertainty.

 

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Crisis Response moving to FULL CAPACITY

I'm writing to you from Panama City, Florida, where our Mercy Chefs team is feeding schoolchildren here who are now out of school at least through the end of this month due to the coronavirus shutdown.

Yesterday, the water heater at our facility broke. The school system here is helping us bring one over from a different location, but there will be some expense (labor costs, etc.) to make it operational. We'll get through this so our team can stay focused on the need here which could rapidly increase due to the coronavirus crisis. One week of Spring Break has already turned into two weeks out of school, with no end in sight at this point. We will be here to help.

+ + Crisis pushing us to FULL CAPACITY

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Coronavirus EMERGENCY response

I'm sending you this ALERT on the national coronavirus crisis taking place right now in our nation.

The President just declared a NATIONAL EMERGENCY under the provisions of the Stafford Disaster Relief And Emergency Assistance Act, which allows the federal government to mobilize resources to state and local authorities.

I will not even begin to forecast what may happen with the virus, but one thing is for certain: the now inevitable shut down of so much of our society has assured that THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS HAS PRECIPITATED A SERIES OF CRISES that are now demanding our immediate attention.

Never in the history of Mercy Chefs have I received so many requests for help in one day. I have been on the phone almost NON STOP with community leaders from across the country who are bracing for the need to serve THOUSANDS if not TENS OF THOUSANDS of meals starting as soon as next week.

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Nashville update

Mercy Chefs is back in Nashville today, serving both lunch and dinner in one of the most underserved areas of this entire region that was hit by the massive tornadoes earlier this month.

We received the request from our local contacts on Tuesday, so we quickly mobilized a team so that meal service could start at lunch today.
This is precisely why we kept one of our mobile kitchens in Nashville -- so that we could respond on short notice when called upon.

Our Mercy Chefs team will be here through the weekend, serving meals and meeting practical needs during a very challenging time. Since we depend on the generosity of friends like you every time we deploy, we could use your help today and through the weekend. Would you consider making a special tax-deductible contribution to help Mercy Chefs provide hot meals while we continue other efforts? Go here:

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Tennessee First Lady Thanks Mercy Chefs

Tennessee First Lady Maria Lee joined with our Mercy Chefs team in the Nashville area to help prepare hot meals for victims and volunteers. While with our team, First Lady Lee shared her appreciation for the Mercy Chefs team and friends like you who make it possible to serve these hot meals. Watch here:

"To have Mercy Chefs show up here in our city to bring comfort by providing a meal for those not only in this community but in the surrounding counties who have been affected is just a great confirmation of the hands and feet of Jesus at work through the hands and feet here at Mercy Chefs pulling together hot, comforting meals. In a very difficult time, it means a whole lot." -- Tennessee First Lady Maria Lee

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Tennessee relief update

Saturday Afternoon, Nashville

We've been continuing to provide hot meals to locations throughout Nashville as well as through our mobile kitchen in the hard-hit region of Mt. Juliet. Today, we served over 1,000 people in Mt. Juliet alone -- both victims and volunteers.

Every disaster deployment is unique. Here in Tennessee we have seen a great outpouring of volunteer support, unlike anything we've ever seen. As I noted to you yesterday, the First Lady of Tennessee, Maria Lee (in the center of the photo) 
joined our volunteer force in East Nashville. She jumped on the service line and helped our chefs back in the kitchen. Her Tennessee Serves initiative perfectly matches our desire to support neighbors helping neighbors in their communities in the aftermath of tragedies such as this one.

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TN tornado's shocking path of destruction

Thursday PM, Nashville

With every hour that passes, the true magnitude of this storm's devastation grows. For mile after mile, the track of the tornado is visible as it blew up neighborhoods, businesses, warehouses -- everything in its path. It looks like a series of bombs went off.
Other areas were badly damaged by the amount of debris dispersed by the winds.

A lady came to Mercy Chefs almost feeling a bit guilty because, while her home was damaged (she lost part of her roof and her property suffered significant damage), many of her neighbors lost everything. Their houses were destroyed and they are now left to pick through the rubble. This woman came to us in hopes that she could take back meals to her neighbors who had suffered so much. We loaded her up with as many meals as she could take. I'm sure she'll be back. We'll be ready with more meals.

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