We Can Do Better Than This
Back in 2005, ALAN’s 2020 Lifetime Achieve Award honoree chef Gary LeBlanc decided to help with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
While volunteering in New Orleans, he saw firsthand how difficult it was to efficiently feed the many people who had traveled there to help – or who had been displaced as a result of the storm.
“At the time, I was broken by what I witnessed . . . and outraged by the quality of meals being served,” he wrote.
Eventually it got him to thinking, “Hey, we can do better than this.”
And thus Mercy Chefs was born. Today, it has served more than 7 million restaurant-quality meals to first responders, disaster survivors and volunteers across the globe, providing numerous people with the comfort of a hot meal when they need it most.
It’s a tale that we at ALAN can completely relate to.
Like Mercy Chefs, we also got our start as a result of Hurricane Katrina – and because several caring logistics professionals looked at the supply chain chaos that was erupting and said, “Hey, we can do better than this, too.”
Fifteen years later, we have been able to make good on that goal by helping with countless disasters – right here at home in the US, and around the globe in places like The Bahamas, Liberia, Nepal, and Ecuador.
It just goes to show that some amazingly wonderful things can often grow out of something truly terrible.
That thought gives me a lot of hope as I reflect on the events of this past 9 months, because 2020 has been a year of disasters like no other. From a pandemic and out-of-control wildfires to devastating tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes, the litany of crises we’ve been called upon to address has been nothing short of awful – and relentless. And it has strained our healthcare, rescue, non-profit and relief capabilities like never before.
The resulting rescue, relief and rebuilding efforts haven’t always been pretty, because when you’re dealing with both a pandemic and multiple disasters at once, it tends to wreak havoc with even the most efficient of operations.
In fact, I’m sure there are many people who are looking at some of the efforts that have taken place and thinking their own version of, “Hey, we can do better than this.”
And you know what? I’m glad there are. Because sometimes those “what a mess moments” are the way that meaningful change occurs.
Somewhere out there the next ALAN or Mercy Chefs is waiting to be born. And maybe, just maybe, you’re the someone who’s being called to help make it happen.
On behalf of all of us at ALAN, thank you for allowing us to do so much good – and make supply chain relief so much better and stronger – over the past 15 years. It’s been an honor.
P.S. While we’re on the subject of “We can do better than this,” won’t you help us do a better job of filling some of the many outstanding logistics needs we still have on our Disaster Micro-site? There are now nearly two dozen of them to choose from, and we could really use your help.