Have you ever thought about how we take care of our on-the-ground Emergency Response teams when a natural disaster hits? There can be hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of emergency personnel, relief teams, and volunteers who are quickly deployed into often hazardous conditions to provide aid. How do we make sure basic needs are being met for those people, including something as simple as a fresh and nutritious meal?
Behind the scenes of some of the United States' top caterers is a niche service industry rarely talked about. While these organizations are often celebrated for their innovative cuisine and reputations for producing some of the country’s top sporting, corporate, and social events, some caterers also have decades of experience providing food service in conditions that are a far cry from the glamorous events often seen in the news. When disaster strikes, many caterers are bringing their exceptional food quality and safety standards, as well as their passion for hospitality, to serve their communities through emergency response services and disaster relief.
Take a peek below to see how these three ECEP members have leveraged their experience in catering, events, and mobile kitchens to serve a larger purpose. They’re just a few examples of the great work being done across the U.S. by many of your local catering companies.
Go the Extra Mile with Puff ’n Stuff
With over 40 years of experience providing emergency services, Florida's Puff ‘n Stuff Catering is not your average hospitality company. The award-winning caterer with locations in Tampa and Orlando, known for their delicious cuisine and wow-worthy parties, often doubles as disaster relief experts in times of need, particularly during and after damaging hurricanes.
Puff ‘n Stuff has been innovating in this space for decades, designing and building facilities with concrete tilt-walls and flat roofs that are able to withstand exceptionally hazardous conditions. These facilities, complete with back-up generators, enable the company to operate at full capacity during hurricanes that produce damaging winds, flooding, and power outages. With the additional help of 12 refrigerated box trucks, onsite propane and gas, and the proper equipment to set up portable kitchens, Puff ’n Stuff is able to not only remain operational during a disaster, but able to mobilize quickly to assist the Florida community.
As both the chefs and staff at Puff ’n Stuff are fluent in managing off-site catering, adapting to new environments and maintaining sensitivity to the needs of their community comes second nature to their team. They’ve built strong relationships with food vendors to establish access to raw food product even during historic weather events, enabling them to service hot buffets, boxed meals, shelf-stable meal kits, and portable kitchens able to serve large groups of people. They also provide emergency food service for local nonprofits, firefighters, government organizations, hospitals, frontline workers, recovery crews, first responders, and more.
Emergency Response Team: M Culinary Concepts
As wild-land fires become more frequent and continue to spread across the western United States, a Phoenix-based catering company is doing what they can to serve disaster relief teams on the ground in these hazardous locations. Today, M Culinary Concepts has multiple state-of-the-art mobile kitchen units ready to dispatch at a moment’s notice, with each unit able to feed up to 3,000 people every day - a crucial service for firefighters and relief personnel.
With over 15 years of exemplary federal government contract service and a minimum annual rating of 4.6 out of 5, M Culinary has become a sought-after resource in times of disaster. Dispatching from both Phoenix, AZ and Salt Lake City, UT, the company is uniquely positioned geographically to quickly mobilize and get their operations in place for service of hot and nutritious meals. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks are all on the table in any and all emergencies, no matter the conditions.
So what does their setup look like? These relief experts come fully prepared with 8 generator-equipped trailers, box trucks, and numerous support vehicles. They also provide canopies with tables and chairs that are able to serve 200 people each, as well as on-board propane, portable water, and gray water tanks with refilling services available. This state of the art equipment allows M Culinary to mobilize within 4.5 to 6 hours and serve at least 3 meals a day for up to 3,000 people.
Proof of the Pudding to the Rescue
Atlanta’s Proof of the Pudding maintains that their “language is food” - a sentiment that speaks volumes, particularly when they provide food service to help those in need through their disaster relief operations. Executive chefs, servers, operators, and project managers meet to strategize and deploy their teams in record time, mobilizing with just 48 hours notice to serve locations throughout the southeastern United States during a crisis. With top-of-the-line resources and over 50 catering partners willing to provide staffing across the United States, Proof of the Pudding is able to efficiently serve thousands of people in any emergency while maintaining their exceptional quality and safety standards.
During the Covid-19 crisis, the company found themselves serving hospitals more than ever before, providing meals to essential workers and their patients. In addition, the company’s Georgia location is conducive to training staff to be skilled in providing expert hurricane response services. With an abundance of emergency equipment, they are also able to maintain power in ice storms which allows them to serve food to those who have lost it – a crucial service during prolonged outages due to unexpected winter weather. Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, and floods happen in an instant, and Proof of the Pudding's teams are there in a snap to provide food service for the first responders and disaster cleanup crews.
Does your catering or event company provide emergency response or disaster relief services? We want to hear about it! Comment below and tell us your story.