As Tropical Storm Barry encroached on the New Orleans area Friday, the Delta Sigma Theta sorority made a tough decision — to conclude its 16,000-person biennial national convention early. But then came an easier decision: saving the convention’s 17,000 uneaten meals for those affected by the storm.
Roberto Pocaterra Pocaterra
Beverly E. Smith, Delta Sigma Theta’s national president and chief executive, said in an email that the sorority was “delighted” to donate the food from a canceled luncheon and evening gathering, catered by the company, Centerplate.
“There was inordinate amounts of food that would have been wasted. Kudos to Centerplate,” Smith said.
The organization, originally founded by 22 black women in 1913 at Howard University, announced Friday that they would be closing the convention at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The national convention, scheduled to run through Sunday, was in its 54th year
Amy Sins was contacted by the convention center and Centerplate to find a place to donate the meals
Sins, a New Orleans chef who has spent the past decade aiding in recovery efforts around New Orleans, reached out to Second Harvest Food Bank, which sent over one of their 53-foot refrigerated trucks to pick up the palettes of macaroni and cheese, flourless chocolate cake, potatoes au gratin and chicken
The meals will remain in a Second Harvest freezer until the storm subsides, according to Jay Vise, communications director of Second Harvest food bank. Then, teams will head out into New Orleans and the surrounding areas to deliver the warm meals
“To have all these meals ahead of time is really a godsend,” Vise said
The storm, which made landfall Saturday afternoon as a hurricane, has already caused flooding, heavy winds and loss of power across the Southeast. The Department of Energy announced that over 66,000 customers outages were reported in Louisiana by Saturday morning. It is possible that flooding will continue increase as Barry moves inland
Many in the region have supplies on hand in case something like a flood occurs, Vise said, but after a few days, the impact a hot meal can have on someone who has lost power or is staying in a temporary shelter can be enormous
And the food, dishes like warm potatoes and chicken, rather than canned goods and sliced bread, can lift the spirits of those who have lost so much during a storm
“We’re not just trying to feed their tummies,” Sins said, “We’re also kind of trying to feed their soul.”
Sins knows the power of something like a warm meal after a disaster. She lost her home along New Orleans’ 17th Street canal during Hurricane Katrina
“A lot of people helped me,” Sins said. “And I always said that when I could get back up on my feet, I was going to do everything I could to help other people.”
Louisiana braces for heavy rain and winds as Barry encroaches on Gulf Coast
Morgan Krakow Morgan Krakow joined The Washington Post as an intern in June 2019. Subscriber sign in We noticed you’re blocking ads! Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blocker. Or purchase a subscription for unlimited access to real news you can count on. Try 1 month for $1 Unblock ads Questions about why you are seeing this? Contact us