Through the initiative of Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman and CEO Sen. Dick Gordon to provide an immediate response to the Visayas and Mindanao region affected by the recent Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai), PRC Hot Meals on Wheels provided free ready-to-eat meals to 75,141 individuals, since the beginning of Typhoon Odette operations.
In the immediate aftermath of any disaster, access to food is usually disrupted, with displaced families unable to prepare their food. This threatens the health, nutrition, and well-being of affected communities. The “Hot Meals on Wheels” program seeks to address this by having a fleet of food trucks that could be easily mobilized to provide food relief within 24 hours of a disaster.
PRC’s Hot Meals on Wheels first started in 2005, through the vision of PRC Chairman Dick Gordon to provide food to the most vulnerable. PRC acquired its first food truck when Chairman Gordon donated his personal funds to procure a food truck and distributed it to the different PRC chapters in the National Capital Region.
As of this writing, PRC’s food trucks have catered to over a million people, responding to disasters like Bohol Earthquake and Zamboanga Siege in 2013, Mindanao Earthquake in 2019, Typhoon Rolly and Ulysses in 2020, and throughout the entire COVID-19 operations.
When the COVID-19 pandemic happened in the Philippines, imposing a lockdown in the country, Thousands of Filipinos lost their jobs, their source of livelihood, and have restricted access to food. Through PRC Hot Meals on Wheels, the humanitarian organization can provide food to the most vulnerable individuals such as senior citizens, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, and children greatly affected by the pandemic.
To intensify PRC’s covid response in providing Hot Meals to lockdown affected residents, PRC procured seven food trucks last July 2021, and an additional five more last October 2021, making it a fleet of 28 food trucks.
This initiative by PRC is in response to the imposition of strict community quarantine measures that restrict the residents to their access to food and other basic needs.
The food trucks are one of the first responses of PRC in emergencies and are currently stationed in key-strategic areas nationwide to hasten relief operations.
Each food truck is fully-equipped with an industrial-size rice cooker, warmers, oven, and burners. It is designed to provide on-site meals for the victims of disasters and calamities with no access to their homes or cooking facilities. Addressing the need for food is an immediate concern for these unfortunate persons.
“Sa panahon ng sakuna, isa sa pinaka mahalaga sa tao ay ang pagkain. Mahalaga ang mga Food Trucks dahil ilalapit na natin ito sa mga naapektuhan. Hindi na nila kailangan lutuin at kakainin nalang nila ito. May mga volunteer chefs at nutrionist din ang Red Cross upang masiguradong ligtas, masustansya, at masarap ang mga pagkain na ibabahagi sa affected communities,” Sen. Dick Gordon said.
PRC’s Food truck has played a vital role in emergency responses through hot meals distribution in evacuation centers, making it one of the first responses by the humanitarian organization to affected communities in times of crisis, disasters, and conflicts.
The hot meals on wheels is just one of the developments seen, as Gordon leads the Philippine Red Cross modernization program.