Virginia-based disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization Mercy Chefs has deployed to Romania, where it will serve Ukrainians fleeing their homes after Russia’s invasion.
The organization and its international partners expect to be set up at the Romanian border by tonight to provide aid to the thousands of Ukrainians entering the country. Initially, Mercy Chefs and its partners will provide emergency food supplies, water, essential sanitary needs and diapers to the refugees and anticipates establishing a field kitchen to enable it to provide warm, chef-prepared meals in the days ahead.
“We go wherever there is a need to feed people,” said Gary LeBlanc, co-founder of Mercy Chefs. “While we have been all over the world to help people get back on their feet after a natural disaster, this is unique. We will help welcome those fleeing their homes to Romania with food, water, essential needs and love.”
According to news reports, more than a half million people had fled Ukraine in the first five days since Russia invaded. While Mercy Chefs will start service in Romania, where more than 40,000 refugees have crossed the border, it is exploring options to aid refugees at other borders in Poland and Hungary.
Mercy Chefs was founded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when LeBlanc went to New Orleans to volunteer and realized disaster relief could be done better. It has served nearly 20 million meals since 2006 in response to national and international emergencies and natural disasters.
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.