Ribbon Cutting for Beacon of Hope Kitchen on Feb. 8 in Paducah
When tornadoes ravaged wide areas of Western Kentucky in December, Mercy Chefs, a Virginia-based disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization that serveschef-prepared meals in national emergencies and natural disasters, quickly deployed and began serving meals to victims, first responders and volunteers in Mayfield within 24 hours.
Today, the nonprofit announces that it has opened the Beacon of Hope Kitchen to provide long-term relief in Graves, McCracken, Marshall, Hopkins and Lyon counties. Mercy Chefs will welcome community members to a ribbon cutting to unveil its ongoing plans in Western Kentucky on Feb. 8 at 11 a.m. at Lone Oak Middle School in Paducah.
“This community needs us,” said Gary LeBlanc, co-founder of Mercy Chefs, which has served nearly 20 million meals since its founding in 2006. “We have been amazed by the resolve of the people we’ve met, the people we’ve shared meals with over the past six weeks. But we also know the long recovery that lies ahead and know that we can play a big role in that recovery.”
Mercy Chefs will base its Beacon of Hope Kitchen operations at Lone Oak Middle School and deliver a variety of services to the community, including:
The organization introduced this model in Bay County Florida after Hurricane Michael, a vital effort to help the community not only in the months following the devastation, but also in the ensuing years.
“For a week, Western Kentucky was in everyone’s thoughts and minds,” LeBlanc said. “But what happens after the news crews leave town? What happens when the shock and disbelief turn to trying to return to normal? The need doesn’t diminish, it only gets stronger. Thanks to our supporters all over the country, our goal is to remind this community that it isn’t forgotten and that it can lean on us for warm meals, love and support.”
Mercy Chefs is working in partnership with Relevant Church, with which it has developed a valued relationship, to bring relief to the affected counties. Recent meals have included pork-fried rice with pineapple/snapped peas with fresh salad and a roll and blackened organic chicken breast with penne Alfredo, garlic toast, salad and fresh fruit.
To support Mercy Chefs in its current relief efforts, visit www.mercychefs.com and its Beacon of Hope site at https://mercychefs.com/kytornado/. Follow Mercy Chefs on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates on its relief efforts.
Mercy Chefs is a 501c3 founded in 2006 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The organization exists to provide professionally prepared, restaurant-quality meals to victims, volunteers and first responders in natural disasters and national emergencies and partners with existing ministries with food service in underserved communities around the country. Since its founding, Mercy Chefs has served over 20 million meals. In 2020, Mercy Chefs founder Gary LeBlanc was recognized by Southern Living Magazine as a “Hometown Hero,” and Mercy Chefs was named the 2020 Small Business of the Year in the nonprofit category by Inside Business and the Hampton Roads Chamber. In 2015, it received both the Virginia Governor’s Volunteerism Award and the Hampton Roads Volunteer Achievement Award for its service. For more information, visit MercyChefs.com.