My decision

I face a major decision.

We just launched our third unique coronavirus crisis outreach -- our "Farmers to Families" food box pilot program in Oklahoma. In our first week, this new outreach has already provided food for more than 15,000 people in hard-to-reach areas.

At the same time, this weekend we'll exceed 400,000 meals total 
served through our meal box and community kitchen meal programs that continue to minister to tens of thousands every week. We have never reached so many at-risk kids, struggling families and elderly shut-ins in our history.

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Huge turnaround

I hope you saw my update yesterday regarding a huge turnaround Mercy Chefs is taking part in -- helping farmers turn food that was going to be wasted into meals for hurting people who are struggling during the coronavirus crisis.

Today, our pilot "Farmers to Families" program in Oklahoma will deliver enough food for about 6,000 meals for hurting families. I want to expand this program to other states in the next two weeks, but I need help today to move forward! Please take a moment right now to partner with Mercy Chefs to help turn food that was going to be wasted into life-supporting meals for hurting folks during this crisis

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One of the biggest food tragedies I've ever seen

One of the unexpected nightmares of the coronavirus crisis has been the stories of food going to waste.

With supply chains being disrupted, farmers across the country are facing the impossible decision of plowing their crops back into the ground despite the fact that millions of hard-hit Americans are waiting in long lines for food. This amounts to a tragic waste of food when so many are struggling.

Thankfully, the U.S. government recently initiated a "Farmers to Families Food Box" program to turn the food that would have been wasted into meals for hurting families. One of the key "missing links" in the process is getting the boxed-up food from the farmers and distributors into the hands of those in need in the hardest-hit communities.

Enter Mercy Chefs.

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Big news

I have some extremely important news to share with you.

Through our ongoing meal box distribution program that has reached 18 locations and has provided over a quarter million meals, we recently became aware of an opportunity that could more than double the number of our distribution locations by the end of this month.

I can't share all the details with you right now as we are waiting final confirmation on the plans, but I am expecting this one opportunity will significantly expand our coronavirus crisis outreach. And we will be reaching particularly hard-hit areas where unemployment is high and resources are scarce.

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More than I imagined...

I'm both in awe and humbled by what the Lord has done and continues to do.

On Monday, our Virginia community kitchen served its 100,000th meal since the beginning of this coronavirus crisis. 
Later today, we will reach a total of 300,000 Mercy Chefs meals -- including the meal box distribution and our response to the Chattanooga tornado -- since this crisis began. It makes me think of these words from Ephesians...

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us..." --Ephesians 3:20

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Another 3.2 million...

The numbers are still staggering, yet sadly we are getting used to it. Last week, another 3.2 million people filed for unemployment, bringing the total since the outset of this crisis to 33.5 million.

We have now reached levels of unemployment not seen since the Great Depression. Across the country, people are lining up in their cars for food. In some places, the cars start lining up before sunrise to make sure they get help before supplies run out.

Mercy Chefs has been providing thousands of meals nearly every day during this crisis. We are in our eighth week, and the need isn't letting up. This week, through our partners in South Dallas, we helped provide thousands of children and their families with food. We are seeing a similar story unfold at Mercy Chefs distribution sites across the country. In Tennessee and Florida and South Carolina and even on the island of Maui -- where Hawaii's unemployment rate topped 37% a few weeks ago -- your support is helping to feed thousands of folks every week.

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"A life saver"

I want to share a few of the "thank you" letters we received recently from elderly folks who have been shut in by the coronavirus crisis. Your support made this possible. See below.  --Gary

"They really are a life saver..."

Those words came from a dear woman living in a senior center who has been receiving Mercy Chefs meals during the coronavirus crisis. She continued...

"...and so nourishing. Being shut in... it has meant so much. In this awful crisis it is a wonderful thing to know there indeed are folks who care and go out of their normal routine to help others!" (emphasis in the original)

Another lady, who is 89, sent us a beautiful thank you card addressed to, "Wonderful People" which says:

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Special Giving Deadline

As I noted to you earlier today, some national leaders have designated today as a special "Giving Tuesday" to help non-profits that are going the "extra mile" in response to the coronavirus crisis. Mercy Chefs is one of the non-profits that has been asked to do even more during this crisis -- far beyond anything we budgeted for this Spring.

If you haven't done so already, we could use your help today as we start our EIGHTH CONSECUTIVE WEEK of coronavirus crisis outreaches. To make your gift directly to Mercy Chefs, go here -- and see below for more details.

God bless!

Gary LeBlanc

P.S. We will count every online gift through tomorrow toward this special Giving Tuesday response. If you prefer to send a check, please get it in the mail this week and we will count it as well. Go here for mailing instructions and to give:

Click here for more information from our previous update.

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worn down

This is going to be a DIFFICULT WEEK. Truthfully, our team is getting worn down. Today marks SEVEN CONSECUTIVE WEEKS of wall-to-wall outreach in response to the coronavirus crisis. The meal total during this time will soon reach a QUARTER MILLION, including our Chattanooga tornado response. This is all unprecedented and so is the wear and tear on our team.

Our kitchen team in Virginia is continuing to put in heavy overtime hours to meet the seemingly ever-increasing demand -- even after we expanded our staff. Fatigue is setting in. We had to take a few people off line for a few days to recover from minor injuries. Our distribution centers across the country are still seeing urgent needs, but the cost of the food supplies is increasing.

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desperation

For many, desperation is setting in. Thirty million people recently lost their jobs. And the calls and emails asking for help are flooding into our office. Please see below.  --Gary

It's hard to even open our Mercy Chefs email some days. Since we are in so many communities now, folks are hearing about Mercy Chefs and reaching out to us for help.

One woman who contacted us shared that she has a very serious health condition, but her doctors suspended the treatments during the COVID crisis. Her family had just moved into a new apartment a few weeks ago when her husband lost his job. Now they are struggling during their state's lockdown just to put food on the table. She's asking if we can "help with a few meals" -- what she calls a "hand up not a hand out" -- as they navigate this difficult season. We are working on getting some help to her family.

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