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Mercy Chefs delivering kindness and quality food to Barnsdall

Posted at 5:40 PM, May 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-09 18:40:15-04

BARNSDALL, Okla. — Driving through storm-ravaged Barnsdall with Leonda McClure, it seems as though she lives here. She is familiar with names and seemingly knows everyone’s tornado “story.”

But Leonda is in Barnsdall to deliver compassion and quality meals as a volunteer for Mercy Chefs—a Virginia-based non-profit organization dedicated to delivering professional chef-made meals to disaster areas.

Since its founding in 2006, Mercy Chefs has responded to more than 200 disasters in 30 states and 22 countries. Chef Gary Le Blanc, Founder and CEO, still works on-site as often as he can.

He started the organization after living through Hurricane Katrina and witnessing how other organizations were feeding those in need.

“Out of a can, on a plate and small portions, no love, no professionalism, no sanitation in most cases,” he described. “I just thought, ‘There should be a better way to feed people who lost everything.’”

Today’s menu: pot pie, mashed potatoes, strawberries and more—made with love with it’s needed most.

“Quite often people are thinking about what’s happened to them over that meal,” he said. “We see a lot of tears, a lot of joy.”

For people like Phillip Schmidt, whose home was damaged, sitting down to eat was the first time to step away from the disaster area.

“It’s nice, wonderful, sit down, relax and get your thoughts before you go out and do it again,” he said.

Mercy Chefs plans to deliver 3-4,000 meals a day to tornado victims and volunteers—anyone who needs one.

The group also plans to prepare meals for the funeral of Tyson Townley, a Bartlesville teenager who died in a car accident the weekend before the storm.

To have plenty of kitchen space, Mercy Chefs approached Lighthouse Church with an offer they couldn’t refuse.

“Mercy Chefs said give us this side of the parking lot and we’re going to make food for the community all week,” said Pastor Ryan Gott. “[They said] We want to make the town better than when we got here, and that’s all they have done.”

Quality food and kindness as long as the need is there.

Click here to donate to the disaster relief fund.

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