As Hurricane Florence hammered the Carolinas with damaging winds, storm surge and catastrophic
flooding, Foodbuy associates were already mobilizing in an effort to assist those hit hardest in their
home state. Even before the hurricane made landfall, an extraordinary disaster relief team called World
Central Kitchen (WCK), founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, was in place to begin preparing
meals for victims. Foodbuy associates didn’t hesitate in volunteering to work with WCK to help out
their fellow North Carolina residents.
“For two days straight we made meals for victims and first responders of Hurricane Florence,” said
Greg Tomasello, Chef Manager at Foodbuy. “We used a central kitchen in Raleigh, and the meals were
trucked to Wilmington and New Bern. The first day, we served 14,000 meals, and then 7,500 meals on
the second day, which was significant because shelters had begun to close, and many victims had limited
options for food,” said Greg.
Just four days after Hurricane Florence hit, WCK had served 80,000 meals, 20,000 meals per day,
serving 25 shelters, the National Guard, local police/fire departments, and other emergency responders.
This was not WCK’s first emergency response operation, and founder José Andrés is no stranger to
disaster relief work. He founded the nonprofit WCK in 2010 after the devastating earthquake in Haiti,
and was in Houston to help with relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. But, it was Hurricane
Maria that hit Andrés native Puerto Rico in September of 2017 that impacted Andrés the most. He
landed in Puerto Rico just days after Hurricane Maria roared through the island. As a Spanish immigrant
who had built a much-lauded restaurant empire in America, Andrés felt a special kinship with Puerto
Rico, as noted in his celebrated book, We Fed An Island. He mentioned that chefs are uniquely qualified
for this kind of work, because they are not only great in the kitchen, but great with orders, supplies, and
inventory – skills that are incredibly useful in a disaster zone.
Foodbuy associates also felt a kinship with their North Carolina neighbors during Hurricane Florence.
Foodbuy’s 300+ employees are headquartered in Charlotte, just a few hours from the storm-ravaged
coast. Because the hurricane hit so close to home, and associates saw the devastation first-hand, it was
especially gratifying to be able to use their culinary and management skills, knowledge, and resources in
an arena outside the corporate walls.
As disaster relief efforts continue along the coast, Foodbuy associates will step in to help victims, to
assure them that tragedies such as this are not faced alone, now or in the future.