When Hurricane Ian was approaching, our entire team knew this could be a historic storm that would require an unprecedented response from Mercy Chefs.
Sadly, it truly was a historic and devastating storm -- one of the worst hurricanes ever to make landfall in our country's history. Ian made a direct strike on a highly populated, coastal region of Florida with both tornado-force winds and deadly storm surge.
What we've seen here has taken our breath away. As I shared with you a few days ago, this is as bad as I've seen.
+ + Thanks to you, a historic relief response
As you know, we deployed three Mercy Chefs mobile kitchens, along with support vehicles and a large team of chefs and staff members. Within 24 hours of the storm's landfall, we were serving hot meals, and our team continued to provide thousands of meals day after day.
We actually set our single day-record for meals served (23,243 meals) as the need continued to increase. Even this week, we've provided tens of thousands of meals.
And I'm thrilled to report to you that yesterday, Mercy Chefs has now served 204,338 meals to the folks here in Lee County.
With power just about fully restored to the area, Lee County is beginning to enter the next phase of its recovery. With that, as with other major deployments, Mercy Chefs is transitioning from our hot meal distribution to focus on longer-term efforts.
Our initial "phase two" efforts involve the distribution of 216,000 meals through our grocery giveaway program. This will get vital necessities directly to families as they transition back to providing their own meals.
As we continue to serve this community, I want to thank you for your prayers and financial support. The State of Florida selected Mercy Chefs to be the primary feeder for this disaster response, which has been an enormous responsibility. Thanks to you, we have met this challenge and have provided practical relief in the form of 204,338 hot meals.
Gary LeBlanc, Mercy Chefs