PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Author's note: the above video is from mid-May.
A faith-based Portsmouth nonprofit had heartwarming news Friday morning - Mercy Chefs just served its 5 millionth meal to people in need.
The organization was established in 2006 as a disaster relief organization, with the goal of serving restaurant-quality, nutritional meals to those affected by disasters, and the first responders and volunteers working to help victims.
Three million of the 5 million free meals were given since March of this year, as people affected by the coronavirus pandemic faced new levels of food insecurity.
In July alone, volunteers served a million plates.
For context - Mercy Chefs said it took a decade, between 2006 and 2016, to serve its first million meals.
Gary LeBlanc, the founder of Mercy Chefs, said this was "like a dream realized."
“To serve a million meals in just one month is just incredible for us,” he wrote in a release. “When I founded Mercy Chefs in 2006, I never anticipated that level of growth would be possible for an organization we truly built from the ground up. We have a really amazing team – staff, partners, volunteers, vendors – that makes it all possible.”
Through volunteer efforts, Mercy Chefs' Portsmouth kitchen has served about 200,000 meals, a spokesperson wrote.
"The organization is partnering with the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore and other community partners to get meals to school children, the elderly and first responders," they wrote.
The nonprofit also has kitchens in Texas, Maryland, New York and Okalahoma, and volunteers take food all over the country using mobile kitchens and refrigerated trailers.