Many of our friends on the east coast have been hit with winter storm after winter storm. As they dig themselves out of a mountain of snow (something we Texans aren’t too familiar with — brrr!), we wanted to share a few stories about good food bringing people together after storms in the not-too-distant past.
Texas Grocery Store Chain Keeps the Lights On During Difficult Times
Did you know that H-E-B, the 112-year-old grocery retailer, opened 60 of its Houston stores only hours after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas?
H-E-B’s mobile kitchens were also sent into the city’s more devastated areas to feed first responders and evacuees without access to food. In some locations, H-E-B was there to help even before the Red Cross arrived, which inspired some pretty funny memes last fall, like this one:
State and federal resources are struggling to get into impacted areas. H-E-B — outta the way, we’re coming.
When employees couldn’t get to work, stores opened with whomever was available. Scott McClelland, president of H.E.B.’s Houston division, worked around the clock to ensure food and necessities were available.
Said McClelland, “When you go into a hurricane, you want milk, bread, water. You want batteries; you want canned meat. Coming out of a hurricane, they’re going to want mops and bleach. We called Procter & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark, and we said, ‘send entire trailer loads of toilet paper directly to our stores.’ People would come up and hug me and thank us for making an effort to open. One woman walked up and started crying, and she hugged me to thank us for being open.”
Florida Bride Donates Food Intended for Wedding
When Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys last fall, it destroyed Jessica Jean Williamson’s wedding venue. But rather than looking for another location to host her wedding, ABC News reported that she decided to take food that had already been prepared for her reception to those most in need.
Jessica, and her fiance, Alex, had to postpone their wedding date indefinitely due to the hurricane, but rather than let their reception food go to waste, they decided to donate it to a local food distribution center.
“It felt good bringing people some real food,” said Jessica. Despite having to postpone their wedding, Jessica and Alex were committed to helping the community rebuild. “The Keys are so close to my heart that I think we’d rather wait and help rebuild, and still try to do it here than just move it somewhere else. What’s another couple of months?” she said.
“Blizzard Bags” Rise in Popularity Across the Country
From Denver, Colorado to Erie, Pennsylvania, Meals on Wheels programs across the country are working to ensure meal recipients have food even when snowy weather keeps Meals on Wheels from delivering. Meals on Wheels is a program that delivers groceries and/or prepared meals to the elderly and disabled persons who are unable to grocery shop and prepare meals for themselves. Meals on Wheels, a volunteer based organization, operates in virtually every community across the United States, helping to keep senior citizens living in their homes longer.
Normally, nothing gets in the way of meal delivery, but on especially snowy days volunteers may not be able to deliver food as expected. In recent years, Meals on Wheels programs have started delivering “Blizzard Bags” early in the winter. These grocery bags contain shelf stable food and are meant to be kept as emergency rations. By thinking ahead, Meals on Wheels volunteers are able to ensure their clients have at least 48 hours of food on hand during inclement weather.
In Grand River, Colorado, the Blizzard Bag program was put together by high school students.
“These Blizzard Bags will lessen the food anxiety in some of our most vulnerable and it is always amazing when caring young adults, like these students, lend a hand to pack these bags for the homebound, ” said Kaaren Peck, Grand River Meals on Wheels director.
Food Builds Community
When the winter feels long or a series of storms seems like it just won’t let up, it’s easy to get discouraged, but we like to focus on what happens after: when the community comes together to help one another after the storm.
At Tommy’s Superfoods, we think food tastes best when it’s shared with others, and seasoned with love (+ a little of Tommy’s unique seasoning blends!). Mother Teresa once said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
Next time you’re planning to cook up a meal, who will you share it with?