The Salvation Army joins hands with partners to keep Gulf Coast residents fed

Sep 1, 2020 | by Brad Rowland

The Salvation Army joins hands with partners to keep Gulf Coast residents fed

When Hurricane Laura unleashed its fury on southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas last week, the destruction left hundreds of thousands of the region's residents without electrical power. Many were also left without water. Keeping people fed was going to be a challenge.

The Salvation Army's Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi and Texas divisions have been on the scene for several days to meet that need. Thirteen Army canteens are serving in the hard-hit Lake Charles, Louisiana, area, and 10 are deployed around Beaumont and southeast Texas.

But The Salvation Army is not confronting the challenge on its own. Army relief units are partnering with other agencies and organizations to keep people fed and cared for.

On Monday, Omaha Steaks announced the launch of a partnership with the Army to get meals to people in the devastated areas on the Gulf coast. Omaha Steaks is providing over 60,000 pounds of steak, which will total nearly 200,000 portions. The company will partner with Salvation Army disaster teams to prepare and serve the steaks from canteens and other feeding units.

"We are so grateful to Omaha Steaks for providing and delivering so many meals to families in need," said Captain Trey Jones, the incident commander for the Army's Louisiana relief operations. "Hurricane Laura has absolutely devastated southwest Louisiana and east Texas, and the generosity of the Omaha Steaks team will mean that thousands of families will get a nourishing meal when power is out, water is unavailable and very few stores are open. These are meals that absolutely matter."

The Nebraska-based Omaha Steaks has a history of supporting food security through partnerships with food banks and national organizations to provide food during natural disasters. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has donated over $1 million worth of food to various organizations around the country. The current donation is the largest in company history.

The Omaha Steaks donation will augment The Salvation Army's feeding and relief services, which went into action on Friday. The ALM Division's 53-foot field kitchen, joined by a refrigeration unit and support vehicle, set out for Lake Charles, mobilized courtesy of a grant from Total Transportation, a Jackson, Mississippi-based trucking company. The kitchen can produce as many as 10,000 meals a day, which are being distributed by the canteens working in Lake Charles.

In Texas, The Salvation Army is partnering with a Southern Baptist Convention kitchen to prepare up to 10,000 meals daily, which are feeding residents in Louisiana and Texas.

Among the tens of thousands of Louisiana and Texas residents being served are individuals receiving priceless assistance from relief workers taking the time and making the effort to meet very specific and critical needs. Liz Chattin, a Salvation Army worker on a canteen in Lake Charles, had the opportunity to help a family facing a dilemma.

While working on the canteen, Chattin met Mike Aleman and Isabel Ledesma and their baby, Lia. Aleman and Ledesma are both deaf and their child is severely allergic to dairy products. The Aleman family lacks transportation, and no stores were open within walking distance – they were desperate for formula for Lia.

Chattin was able to locate diapers, wipes and an infant hygiene kit in a Salvation Army warehouse, and she made a special effort to find formula for Lia. None was available locally, but she collaborated with a Salvation Army officer to have soy formula brought from Texas. The child's parents were thrilled and grateful for the assistance and the hope it provided amid the devastation.

Philip Burn, Michelle Hartfield and Daphne Nabors contributed to this report.

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