America’s Second Harvest Network Prepares For Hurricane Rita; Amidst Continued Katrina Relief All Along the Gulf Coast, Texas Food Banks Ready Resources For Impact
CHICAGO, Sept. 21 -- Now a powerful category 5 storm, Hurricane Rita is gaining strength in the Gulf - an ominous sign to weary residents of communities still reeling in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. While the storm’s track may change at any moment, America’s Second Harvest Network Members throughout Texas have been preparing for the storm’s landfall since early this week.
The Houston Food Bank is at the center of the preparedness effort, with other Texas food banks lending a hand and preparing their own operations. Staff and volunteers are readying additional stocks of water, food and cleaning materials to help victims of the storm. America’s Second Harvest is securing and stationing food and grocery product in the Austin and Tyler, TX areas and dispatching supplies and food-filled trucks over the next few days in advance of the storm. Should the storm change direction, provisions will be redirected to another strategic location as appropriate.
“The America’s Second Harvest Network is coordinating additional emergency support to meet the needs of Member food banks and food-rescue organizations in the path of Hurricane Rita, while continuing to support evacuees and communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina” said Ertharin Cousin, COO of America’s Second Harvest. “Our Network provides food assistance to people in need 365 days a year, and we will be here to provide disaster relief and recovery to millions of Americans in the days, weeks and months ahead.”
Of particular note, Houston Food Bank Executive Director Brian Greene recently joined the organization Monday, having left his role as the Executive Director of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans one week ago, after serving at the helm for 12 years. When Hurricane Katrina struck the New Orleans area, Greene extended his dedication to the New Orleans community by leading the food bank through an unprecedented relief operation. If Hurricane Rita hits Houston, Greene will be a two-time leader of a food bank caught in the grips of a major disaster in less than one month.
“We’re are preparing the Houston Food Bank to be up and running as quickly as possible, since we will serve as a lead agency in the Rita recovery effort,” said Greene. “It’s good to know that the members of the America’s Second Harvest Network and the Texas Association of Second Harvest Food Banks are able to assist us if the Houston area is indeed the target.”
While preparations gear up for Rita, the wave of support continues for communities battered by Katrina. As of Wednesday, September 21, more than 950 truckloads have been dispatched to temporary distribution warehouses and America’s Second Harvest food banks in the affected area. These distributions equate to more than 30.6 million pounds of food and grocery product, and more than 23.9 million meals. Dozens upon dozens more truckloads will arrive in the days ahead - hundreds more in the weeks ahead. Trucks are being directed to available space in America’s Second Harvest Network Member warehouses and other facilities for further distribution.
The vital food supplies being dispatched are coming from four major sources: (1) major corporate in-kind donations, i.e. truckloads of ready-to-eat food, (2) food bank inventories that do not impact their own community, (3) purchased groceries through individual and corporate financial donations and (4) USDA commodities.
Network food banks, pantries and soup kitchens across the country have shipped emergency supplies from their own inventories, and hundreds of volunteers have been activated in local communities to move food to where it is needed most.
America’s Second Harvest -- The Nation’s Food Bank Network is the nation’s largest charitable hunger-relief organization with a Network of more than 200 regional member food banks and food - rescue programs serving all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The America’s Second Harvest Network secures and distributes nearly two billion pounds of donated food and grocery products annually. The America’s Second Harvest Network supports approximately 50,000 local charitable agencies operating more than 94,000 programs including food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, after-school programs, and Kids Cafes. Last year, the America’s Second Harvest Network provided food assistance to more than 23 million low-income hungry people in the United States, including more than nine million children and nearly three million seniors. For more on America’s Second Harvest, please visit http://www.secondharvest.org.
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