Thursday, September 15, 2005

Southern Baptists Help Feed Millions After Katrina

Wednesday, September 14, 2005 — When disaster strikes, the American Red Cross swings into action, but it rarely responds alone. Long-established partnerships get called into play, especially for disasters of enormous scale like Hurricane Katrina.
For many disasters one of the closest key partners of the Red Cross in providing meals is the Southern Baptist Convention of the North American Mission Board. Katrina has proved no exception. These kitchens have contributed to the more than 8 million meals the Red Cross has served so far across the South in the Katrina’s wake.
A member of the Southern Baptist Men’s Convention hauls equipment from a Red Cross ERV to prepare for dinner deliveries. (Photo credit: Lesly Simmons)
“We provide manpower and the kitchens,” explains Fred Kinsey, national coordinator of Southern Baptist Convention assistance, “and the Red Cross provides supplies and logistics.”
Since Katrina hit, the Southern Baptists have had more than 30 mobile kitchens operating in affected areas of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. With bright yellow shirts and shining spirits, the Illinois Southern Baptist Disaster Relief team has been running their kitchen in a hot, dusty church parking lot in Bogalusa, Louisiana. On Monday alone, they sent 14,500 meals via Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) to feeding stations across the parish and surrounding areas.
“This massive response is bigger than any one organization and takes the combined efforts of many to bring swift relief,” said Stephanie Millian, Red Cross spokesperson. “But despite the challenges of delivering aid over 90,000 miles to hundreds of thousands, more aid is being delivered more quickly and to more people than ever before. It wouldn’t be possible without the Southern Baptist Convention.”
The Southern Baptist Convention has been a disaster relief partner of the Red Cross since 1987. The partnership has grown with each shared response. During the 2004 hurricane season, the Southern Baptists served their ten millionth meal to disaster victims.
“Last year, one after another hurricane came, but we had a breather in between,” Kinsey recalls. “The meal delivery was spread out. Now, all relief is needed instantly over a widespread area.”
The Southern Baptist volunteers stay in Southern Baptist churches when available, or the Red Cross helps find lodging for them. Like the Red Cross, the Southern Baptists have a nationwide network of disaster responders and pre-positioned supplies.
“We have the kitchens in stage until the storm comes by,” says Kinsey, “and respond within 6 hours, getting into affected areas.
In addition to his role with the Southern Baptists, Kinsey is a veteran Red Cross disaster volunteer of 30 years from Michigan, who has responded to disasters as part of the Southern Baptist Convention network since Hurricane Andrew in 1991. He is also the Southern Baptist state director in Michigan.
The Southern Baptist Convention of the North American Mission Board is comprised of 44,000 churches and missions in the U.S. and its territories. Their disaster relief is provided through a cooperative program where each church contributes.


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