Meat+Poultry - June 2018 - 36
Operation BBQ Relief offers
nourishment in the face of disaster
BY B O B S I M S | b s i m s @ s o s l a n d.c o m
A + POULTRY
R | 06.18 | www.meatpoultry.com
Hays, co-founder and CFO/COO Will Cleaver and another
former co-founder took on the process of putting the
paperwork together and started the journey to becoming a
501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. OBR still went to disaster
sites to serve barbecue to first responders and others before
attaining its official nonprofit designation.
"With that we've been in 25 states now, 44 or 45 different
disasters in those different states and served just over 1.75
million hot barbecue meals to people that have been affected
by disaster and those first responders that come to those
communities," Hays says.
The inherent nature of natural disasters dictates certain
planning and protocol for organizations and volunteers to
effectively provide relief, otherwise the best of intentions
could exponentially increase the chaos. OBR and its
executive team members have worked together to ensure
OBR operates as efficiently as possible. The continual effort
of key members keeps OBR growing and perfecting the art of
mass feedings in the face of disaster.
The OBR executive team asked Bryan Rappolo, currently
director of disaster operations, to join the team after running
some of the organization's larger deployments, including
one to Hammond, Louisiana. The Hammond deployment
was one of OBR's largest at the time, and Rappolo received
overwhelming kudos for orchestrating the effort in the most
efficient manner to date.
"The organization realized at that point that it was time
to get some consistency with the way and the style they
[deployments] were run so we could feed the most people in
Photos: Operation BBQ Relief
n the wake of a natural disaster, a hot meal can
provide comfort and respite from chaos and confusion.
Operation BBQ Relief (OBR) has shown up to cook and
distribute meals to first responders and survivors of natural
disasters for seven years. OBR's executive team and bank
of volunteers consist of willing people - all with regular day
jobs - giving their time, skills and effort to those in need
after disaster hits.
In May of 2011, an EF-5 tornado blew through Joplin,
Missouri, leaving a path of devastation that included 158
deaths and more than 1,000 injuries. It was the morning
after the Joplin tornado that Stan Hays, CEO and co-founder
of OBR, and another co-founder who is no longer with the
organization, began brainstorming.
The founders wondered if a contingency of competition
barbecue cooks could rally as a community to get from the
Kansas City area to Joplin as soon as possible to cook and
serve hot barbecue to those in need of a meal.
"Who better to go set up in a parking lot to do that than
a bunch of guys that do it to compete any given weekend,"
Hays says. "That was the thought process."
Hays and the original team that went to Joplin to serve
a few thousand meals realized they filled a gap between
the immediate end of a disaster and the time at which local
churches, civic organizations and larger, more sustained
groups arrived on the scene to start healing and helping
victims and the affected community.
"We ended up being in that parking lot in Joplin for 11
days and serving approximately 120,000 meals. By the time
we left there we knew we were going to start a nonprofit
organization," Hays says.