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Salvation Army receives new disaster services canteen

By Staff | Aug 1, 2019

A state-of-the-art mobile canteen was recently donated to the Salvation Army by the Lightning Foundation, giving volunteers the opportunity to expand their reach to more individuals after a small, or large disaster.

The Lightning Foundation is a charity foundation of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. The donation is a great addition for the Salvation Army, which strives “to serve the whole person – physically, emotionally and spiritually,” during a disaster.

Spokesperson Eric Anderson said the vehicle is ready to respond in the wake of a disaster, whether it’s in Southwest Florida, or the Southeastern United States.

The Salvation Army has served survivors of every major national disaster since 1900.

The Emergency Disaster Services Canteen, a mobile feeding unit, has its own power and portable water systems, as well as the capacity to serve 5,000. The unit has two full-size convection ovens, two refrigerators, two freezers, two commercial-size coffee makers and two tilt skillets.

Anderson said the vehicle does not necessarily have to be used for a major disaster. The canteen can also respond to both grass and home fires, as well as other situations such police officers at a crime scene.

Volunteer Coordinator and Disaster Trainer for The Salvation Army Kris Volpone said the unit will expand their serving ability. She said their former vehicle was capable of serving 1,500 meals a day, compared to the new vehicle, which can serve 5,000 people.

“The equipment on the vehicle makes the difference and it is brand spanking new,” Volpone said.

She said they will also use it for some events as a training module. They have done this in years past with their last vehicle, serving lunch during a Lee County Homeless Coalition event, for example.

There are multiple units of this kind that are stationed throughout Florida, with two in Southwest Florida.

The new vehicle has already been shown to the community to showcase what it is capable of doing.

Anderson said they are willing to show it off to those interested.

“We are ready to serve when the need arises,” Anderson said. “We are excited to garner more volunteers to man these canteens and serve our community.”

More than 500 volunteers provided help in Lee and Hendry counties during Hurricane Irma. The total number of prepared meals served up to one year following landfall was 36,056; there were 110,984 hydration and snacks provided; 3,065 emotional and spiritual care contacts issued and 67,351 total volunteer hours.

Volpone said in addition to disaster-related volunteer opportunities, the Salvation Army also seeks volunteers for food services in the kitchen of their shelter, food pantry, as well as two family stores and thrift stores.

She said they are also seeking someone to help with their GED program.

“We are blessed with volunteers that come to us with their unique skill sets,” Volpone said, adding that sometimes they do not know they need a particular skill set until it is presented to them.

For those interested in becoming an EDS first responder with The Salvation Army, visit www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org.

To volunteer locally, visitwww.SalvationArmyLeeCounty.org.