By Kevin Hagler
The Atlanta Red Cross had some spirit last week, in more ways than one. “The Spirit of America”, an American Red Cross mobile disaster kitchen, gave the Atlanta branch a visit as part of a national Disaster Kitchen Training course.
Don’t worry. The food did not go to waste as tens of hungry Red Cross volunteers ate a full meal complete with mashed potatoes ‘n gravy, green beans, beef, and even sugar cookies for dessert.
The Spirit is aptly named and can surely bring high hopes to those undergoing tough times during a disaster. The self-contained 53-foot trailer can produce up to 30,000 hot meals per day if needed (no, that is not a typo) and is one of several mobile disaster kitchens used by the American Red Cross Disaster Services Program.
Mobile disaster kitchens, like the Spirit, are normally used to prepare meals in disaster areas and work in conjunction with Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) to deliver food to affected neighborhoods and emergency shelters during a disaster (The Atlanta Red Cross houses one of these ERVs which was deployed in September 2010, to Raleigh-Durham, N.C. ahead of Tropical Storm Earl).
This Disaster Kitchen Training is one of the many steps the Red Cross is taking in preparation for the 2011 severe weather season. Approximately 30 local Red Cross volunteers are qualified to help with the mass feeding of disaster victims. “We’re mindful that the beginning of the severe weather season is just a few days away,” says Metro Atlanta Red Cross Chief Emergency Services Officer. “ We are fortunate to have the The Spirit of America as one of the many tools that we can use to respond to catastrophic disasters.”