Freeport, Illinois (Flood) / 3,681 Meals Over 4 Days

Heavy rain and quick snow melt atop still-frozen ground forced runoff into rivers and creeks across the Midwest during the second week of March 2019. Historic flooding along the east bank of the Pecatonica River (cresting at 16.45′, the highest level since 1975) forced residents from their homes.

The Stephenson County Emergency Manager had heard of Operation BBQ Relief through his involvement with nearby BBQ competitions, so he knew exactly where to ask for help feeding those in need. Freeport’s municipal parking lot, adjacent to The Salvation Army of Freeport, IL, provided the perfect location for the OBR site set-up. Being a small-scale deployment, we got back to our early roots of using volunteers’ competition smokers and small pop-up tents. Despite the frigid overnight temps, our volunteers arrived at the crack of dawn every morning with a smile and a can-do attitude that carried throughout each day. Over 4 days, we prepared the one hot meal that matters 3681 times.

Many thanks to The Salvation Army of Freeport for their generosity in providing a hot breakfast to the OBR volunteers each morning, the use of their kitchen and refrigeration facilities, and for ensuring distribution of the one hot meal that mattered!