Since March 2019, when the coronavirus began affecting the United States, forcing many community-resource organizations to close their doors, we knew we had to act swiftly to ensure our ability to safely remain open and continue supporting those in need. Since then, we’ve served nearly 8 million meals in this pandemic.
Our efforts rapidly evolved into four distinct relief programs: a massive expansion of our community kitchen’s capacity to prepare and distribute meals; an updated disaster relief service protocol designed to prevent viral spread among staff, volunteers, and meal recipients; a groundbreaking grocery box program providing nutrition staples to struggling families; and a partnership with USDA distributors to get agricultural surplus to communities in need while supplementing key pantry items necessary for complete meals.
At the end of 2020, our Portsmouth Community Kitchen focused on those who have been serving our local hospitals during a pandemic for over 10 months now. Mercy Chefs recognizes the service and bravery that doctors, nurses, and hospital staff have endured over the past year and have chosen to honor them by delivering chef-prepared meals.
Since our coronavirus response began in March, our teams have served and distributed millions of meals to hardworking families in need. Following the success of our own pilot program, Mercy Chefs started working with USDA Farmers to Families centers to assist in the distribution of their grocery boxes. We are supplementing these produce and dairy boxes with proteins and grains to make it easier for families to prepare complete meals. We are distributing these boxes in locations across the country and will continue working as closely with this program as possible as 2021 begins.
With the addition of grocery box distribution nationwide, our capacity to reach more people every week has expanded far beyond what we ever could imagine, and the need only continues to grow.