Mercy Chefs Founder & CEO, Chef Gary LeBlanc, always says:
Something Amazing Happens Over A Shared Meal.
Mercy Chefs has served over 18.5 million meals in response to natural disasters, national emergencies and ongoing community outreach.
Mercy Chefs has provided relief in over 26 states since our founding in 2006.
More than 10,000 volunteers have assisted us in providing hot, nutritious meals to people in need.
Just Go Feed People
Mercy Chefs is a faith-based, non-profit disaster relief organization. We exist to provide professionally prepared, restaurant-quality meals to victims, volunteers, and first responders in natural disasters and national emergencies, and we partner with existing like-minded organizations to further their mission by providing food service in underserved communities across the country.
Disaster Relief & Long-Term Recovery
We respond to natural disasters and national emergencies at a moment’s notice.
In our deployments, our professional chefs prepare high-quality, hot meals on a mass scale for victims, first responders and volunteers.
Our team is often one of the first organizations to arrive following a major weather event and is capable of providing 15,000 meals daily to meet the needs of a devastated community.
Mercy Chefs’ Co-Founder, Ann LeBlanc, inspired the development of our Community Kitchens and Outreach division.
She recognized our organization’s responsibility to put our resources, volunteers, and skills to use outside of disasters to feed food-insecure populations across the nation.
In 2019, Mercy Chefs launched its first permanent community kitchen in Portsmouth, Virginia as the model for a program that so far has been replicated in Panama City, FL and Nashville, TN.
Food Insecurity Response
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Mercy Chefs has delivered millions of meals through grocery box distribution in places like Texas, Florida, Virginia, Puerto Rico, Oklahoma and others. The impact these groceries have made on people's lives is unparalleled, and we know we must continue to do more.
Not only have we expanded our grocery box distribution program, but we're finding new ways to support people in food insecure communities with job skills training, single parent cooking classes, and budget recipe creation.
Take the next step with Mercy Chefs today. Join our team of volunteers.
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Make a Donation
Your donation of any amount will make a direct and immediate impact with Mercy Chefs. Simply select your donation type below and follow the prompts provided.
Mercy Chefs is fully funded by private donors. We work hard to keep our overhead costs low so we can maximize the impact of every donation given to our ministry. Our family of financial supporters is a vital part of our ministry. Your generosity empowers us to carry out our work and mission.
A Shared Meal
Something Amazing Happens Over a Shared Meal
The first goal in relief work should be to do no harm. The second goal should be to meet the need.
When people share a meal together, a personal connection is formed on the most basic level, and it serves as a reminder of our shared humanity.
So many of our guests are in shock from traumatic events or suffering from low nutrition due to poverty. We provide them with a nutritious home-cooked meal to help fuel their bodies.
Restoration of Normalcy
For just a moment, our guests can forget about the disruptive events in their lives and be reminded of the small routines that create a sense of normalcy.
Our guests are given the opportunity to enjoy a meal specially prepared for them and served with love.
The compassion shown by our team of professional chefs and volunteers reminds our guests that someone cares for them and brings comfort to their hurting hearts.
Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico
On September 20, 2017 Hurricane Maria pummeled the island of Puerto Rico as a Category 4 Hurricane. The damage was catastrophic. One-hundred percent of power on the island was knocked out, eighty percent of communications towers were downed and over fifty percent of the island was left without clean water access.
Logistics for this response were among the most challenging ever faced by Mercy Chefs’ team. Despite these challenges, the crew established two kitchens on the island with partner churches in Guaynabo and Manati. In addition, Mercy Chefs has installed water purification units across the island in key communities where access to potable water was obsolete. Daily, five Mercy Chefs’ units are collectively producing 10,560 gallons of safe drinking water for residents.
Disaster season began early this year with multiple tornadoes touching down in December through February. Our team provided relief to Garland, Texas, Appomattox, Virginia and LaPlace, Louisiana in the aftermath of these storms. In each scenario thousands were left without power, homes were completely destroyed and others severely damaged. Tragically multiple residents lost their lives to these powerful tornadoes.
Our responses in Virginia and Louisiana took place simultaneously. Mercy I was deployed to Appomattox and Mercy III was stationed in LaPlace. Thousands of meals were served at each location to victims, volunteers and first responders. We were able to meet and minister to many of the victims during our meal service times and on deliveries. Our team was overwhelmed by the survival stories shared with us by people whose home were destroyed but managed to survive.
Ft. Worth Homeless Outreach
For over a year now, Mercy Chefs has been partnering with three local churches in the Dallas, Fort Worth area to host a weekly homeless outreach. Even in the midst of deployments this work continues. Our church partners rotate weekly. Each congregation puts together an outdoor church service and provides volunteers for the day while Mercy Chefs prepares a home-cooked lunch for our outdoor guests.
Sadly, homelessness is on the rise in the Dallas Metroplex, and the most rapid growth within this demographic is among children. Entire families are finding themselves living on the street or in shelters with no place to go after falling on hard times. Our team is diligently working to help the local churches meet this increasing physical and spiritual need.
After Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency for Louisiana due to heavy rainfall that triggered flash flooding across the state, Mercy Chefs deployed our mobile unit, Mercy III, to Monroe. There Mercy Chefs partnered with Evangel Assembly to serve upwards of 1500 meals daily for the local community.
Our team carried out meal service in Monroe for five days totaling more than 7,500 meals. During our time there we learned that over 9,000 water rescues were performed during the flooding - an astonishing number for an area with less than 100,000 residents. Three days into the deployment we were still finding rural residents who had still not been reached with help.
Twice our team deployed to the greater Houston area in response to the extreme flooding that swept through the region this spring. In April we set up site at the North West Community Church in the Cyprus Creek neighborhood. Daily our chefs prepared 2,000 meals for victims, volunteers and first responders.
Just six short weeks later, our team was back on the ground to bring relief to a second round of flooding. This time in Brazoria County along the Brazos River. There we served between 1,000 and 1,400 meals daily - mainly to evacuees staying in the emergency shelters and to first responders working tirelessly to make water rescues. On both deployments Mercy Chefs partnered with the local Salvation Army to make meal deliveries to flood victims, who were unable to reach the distribution site.
West Virginia Floods
This June’s flood in West Virginia was labeled a 1,000-year event with the Elk River cresting at a record high of 33.37 feet. Tragically twenty-three people lost their lives among the small mountain communities. Due to the rarity of flooding in the region, less than two percent of insured homes were covered in the event of a flood. Once the total damage was assessed, three counties received a Federal Disaster Declaration. The scene was overwhelming.
Mercy Chefs’ team of professional and volunteer chefs served more than 14,000 meals in the aftermath of this flood to the towns of White Sulphur Springs and Rainelle, both in Greenbrier County. Our self-sustaining mobile kitchens are able to operate without the provision of outside power or potable water. This capability proved essential for our response in West Virginia as power outages stretched through the deployment and boil advisories remained in place until our departure. The team is already planning a return this Thanksgiving to celebrate recovery.
Louisiana Flood Response
Over four trillion gallons of water fell on Louisiana in just two days, which led to a flood of historic proportions. Local reports listed 200,000 homes as damaged or destroyed and twenty parishes received Federal Disaster Declarations due to the extensive devastation. Many have labeled this disaster the worst since Superstorm Sandy.
Mercy Chefs was among the first to respond. Within 24 hours of receiving a request for aid, our team was on the ground cooking. Over the course of nine days, our team of professional chefs and volunteers contributed a total of 7,800 volunteer hours and served a total of 63,500 meals to victims and first responders. Though the emergency relief portion of our response has ended, we will continue to be a partner in the long term recovery efforts for the area.
Hurricane Matthew Response
Following Hurricane Matthew's devastating blow, Mercy Chefs carried out a trifold response. In Cap Haitien, Haiti the team delivered and installed two new water filtration systems to provide long-term access to clean water for hurricane victims.
The organization then provided simultaneous relief in South Carolina and North Carolina to victims, first responders and volunteers. Over the course of two weeks, thousands of meals were prepared and served between the two site locations. This also became Mercy Chefs' first clean water response within the United States due to a prolonged loss of water access in Lumberton, North Carolina.
Canton, Texas Tornado
Following a deadly tornado in April of 2017, Mercy Chefs deployed to Canton, Texas. Within hours of the tornado's initial strike, the team was on the ground in Canton with meal service beginning the following day.
This response proved to be the largest tornado response of the 2017 season, with Mercy Chefs serving thousands of meals daily for victims, volunteers and first responders. Several local partners stepped up to provide donated product and support for the team on this deployment, which enabled Mercy Chefs to sustain a larger response during their week long relief efforts.
Baltimore Summer of Peace
From the last weekend in July through the first week in September, Mercy Chefs partnered with the Baltimore Police Department and Somebody Cares Baltimore to host a "Summer of Peace" in Baltimore City. Throughout the summer weeks, Mercy Chefs stationed at different locations across the city to serve "Peace Meals" to the community.
During a year when homicides and violence in the the city were record-breaking, Mercy Chefs helped bring a reduction in crime to the neighborhoods surrounding their 32 peace meal venues. In the weeks following the meals, only one incident of violence was reported within these areas. Statistically police expect to see a 23% reduction in crime for 90 days following these Peace Meals.
Hurricane Harvey & Irma
The destruction from Hurricane Harvey in Rockport and Houston, Texas is unfathomable. In our eleven years of providing disaster relief, this this is the largest response Mercy Chefs has ever provided. Already, we have served more than 100,000 meals to victims, first responders and volunteers from our two stations in Texas. As we continue our work in the Lone Star state, we must also turn our attention to an East Coast strike from Category 5 Hurricane Irma.
Our team is committed to serving Texas as long as there is a need for our relief meals. We will also be preparing to deploy to the area of greatest following Irma’s impact. To partner with us in providing urgently needed relief, please click on the Donate tab at the top, or on our Get Involved tab, where you can become a volunteer.
Oklahoma Teacher’s Walkout
During the April 2018 Teacher’s Walkout in Oklahoma, Mercy Chefs partnered with the Claremore Ministerial Alliance to ensure no child went hungry during the school closures. In Rodgers County, where the outreach took place, fifty-two percent of school children depend on free or reduced-price school meals. Many of these kids don’t have consistent nutrition outside of their school breakfast and lunch, which creates a huge problem when school isn’t in session.
Over the unscheduled, two-week school closure Mercy Chefs provided 2,500 professionally prepared, hot lunches and afternoon snacks daily for students, who would have otherwise gone without. Roughly 200 teachers volunteered their time to help serve and deliver meals to their students.
The Tubbs Fire in California has now been labeled as the most destructive in California’s recorded history. Over forty-two deaths were confirmed as a result of the fire, with many more missing-persons reports still unsolved. In total, thirteen fires across the state consumed 220,000 acres this fall destroying 6,700 structures, most of which were personal residences and businesses.
Mercy Chefs was quick to respond to the call for help and stationed in Sonoma County just blocks away from Coffey Park where a community 1,300 homes were destroyed and many lives were lost. Over the course of a week a team of professional chefs led by Chef Lisa Saylor fed over 10,000 meals to first responders, search and recovery, firefighters, police officers and displaced residents, but more than food, this response was about the ministry of the soul to the families, who were left with nothing but ash and rubble.