Our blog this week is a letter from our founder and CEO, Chef Richard Bradford. He wrote this letter after his trip to Hoboken, NJ to partner with CrossFit Hoboken to provide hot meals to people displaced by Hurricane Sandy. We are so thrilled with the response from our amazing clients and the CrossFit Community. We are especially thankful to our good friend Julie Foucher for donating her CrossFit Games shirt for auction with the proceeds directly supporting meals. We also want to thank all the amazing people that Tweeted, Re-Tweeted, Posted and emailed their friends to support our efforts to provide 1,100 meals to displaced people and first responders in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. We are extremely grateful to you all!
A Letter from Chef Richard Bradford, Founder, Pre-Made Paleo
In the wake of the horrific Super-Storm Sandy, I was listening to a talk show that spoke of companies like Home Depot and Lowes and how they are consistently at the front of relief efforts. They were also talking about displaced families, flooding, lack of power, lack of fuel and all these horrible scenarios that people and families were forced to face. It dawned on me very clearly that my company makes healthy, prepared meals that are a perfect fit for an environment without power. We had an inventory available to deliver to New Jersey right away and I felt compelled to get involved. If it was my family that had to endure this devastation, I knew that I would be eternally grateful for any support.
The Pre-Made Paleo team kicked into gear and we started our small, yet dedicated efforts to provide hot, nutritious meals for anyone in need. We reached out via our social media channels to see who we could find that needed help and partner with local efforts. We knew the CrossFit community was filled with loving, giving people and so we were confident that we could find a great group within the community to partner with us. And, we were right!
Through numerous social media connections reaching out to their communities, we were connected with Craig Parcells and CrossFit Hoboken in Hoboken, NJ. Their gym was flooded and the majortity of their city was evacuated. We partnered with them to send 500 meals to their city and feed people in their community. But, the CrossFit community got involved too. They asked if they could contribute also and within a few short days our 500 meals grew to 1,100 meals through generous donations.
So, on Sunday, November 4, I drove with my good friend Don to rural Pennsylvania. Due to the imposed rationing on gasoline in New Jersey, we stayed the night in Pennsylvania, fueled up the next morning and then headed to Hoboken. We were loaded up with 1,100 meals, 4 generators and all the necessary supplies to heat and serve food to anyone in need.
In partnership with CrossFit Hoboken, we personally donated 400 meals to the area of New Jersey across the river from Manhattan, and furnished a channel to bring additional meals to New Jersey through our website. We fed volunteers, homeless people, and first responders. While in Hoboken, I also reached out a friend in Atlanta who is a New Jersey-native and was connected with a relief coordinator in the Jersey Shore area. This area took a direct hit from “Sandy”, and the devastation was far greater than the Hoboken area. We were told that if we had meals available that we could go Tuesday morning to Seaside Heights, NJ and provide meals. We were excited that we could go deeper into the devastated areas and help.
We met our contact at a high school that was doubling as a shelter, and staging point for disaster relief. Once we arrived, we were re-routed to the barrier island town of Seaside Heights. After speaking with the Seaside Heights Mayor, we drove to the police barricaded perimeter. We were escorted across the bridge leading to the barrier island, drove past the downed power lines and arrived at the quiet beach community that was now a complete destruction zone. We arrived at a church that was established as a soup kitchen and greeted with a hand-written sign reading “Hurricane Sandy's Cafe” This was the headquarters for first-responders on the island.
Chef James, a restaurant owner on the island, was preparing soup and grilled cheese as the first hot meal they had had the entire week when we arrived. They had generator power and 1 propane burner to provide for Chef's lunch. Their food supplies consisted of a wide variety of junk food, a few canned goods, boxed instant food mixes, sugar cereal, and a little fruit.
We offloaded our make-shift kitchen including turkey fryers, potable water, propane tanks, dishes, and our prepared meals and got to work. In 2 hours, we had a buffet of hot food for 150 people. They told us, it was the first hot meal served since the storm. Though it made sense why they hadn't, in was unbelievable that these heroes went a week without a hot meal. They deserve all admiration for what they did and continue to do.
We left after serving lunch, as they had to return to much work to be done. Leaving 550 more meals, fryers, propane tanks, and paper goods for subsequent meals, Don and I made our way off the island.
Between Hoboken and Seaside Heights, we hope to continue providing aid in a satellite capacity. I've included a few pictures from our amazing trip.
It is with heavy sadness that I write about the people and the conditions that we encountered. But, I am also able to write with such pride in the American and Human spirit because of all the amazing people that I encountered along the way.
Thank you all for your support and encouragement over the past week. Please continue to pray for the people that have been affected by this storm. And, please continue to give in any capacity that you are able. I know firsthand how much it is appreciated by all of those affected.
Chef Richard Bradford