PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Over the past few weeks, Mercy Chefs has been cooking up more food than ever before.
During a normal week, their community kitchen would serve between 2,000 and 3,000 meals. Now they're serving 3,000 meals a day.
Founder and President Gary LeBlanc thanked his team for their hard work.
“Great volunteers from Volunteer Hampton Roads. We’ve been supported by some of the great foundations and families here in the Tidewater area to be able to do that,” said LeBlanc.
Volunteer Ahna Louise Mitchell was a busy student before the pandemic started.
“Well before this, I was student teaching and I just graduated from Regent. I graduated on Saturday so I was student teaching and I’m a preschool teacher as well. So, I would be working right now, teaching.” Mitchell explained.
With the stay-at-home order in effect, she needed to find something to do with her time.
“We started I think about a week or two after everything pretty much shut down and we had the stay-at-home order. So, we’ve been volunteering every day since then,” said Mitchell.
Depending on the day, volunteers have different duties. Some days they are needed in the kitchen to help with cooking. Other days they are loading the trucks up for delivery. Most days they are in the tent packaging meals.
“We’re always having fun and we always play games on the line. Like we’ll do questions and everything,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell chose to volunteer with Mercy Chefs because she believes in their motto.
"Every plate means something to somebody and that’s what their whole idea is," Mitchell noted. "It’s not 'how many meals can we do in a day,' it’s 'this single plate is going to change somebody’s life' and so it’s very heartfelt for me.”
Volunteering has given Mitchell something to look forward to every day.
“It’s very humbling and joyful. I wake up every morning and I’m excited to come in. Like, on the weekends it’s kind of boring because we don’t have anything to do or to help out with because they don’t open on the weekends. So I love it, waking up every morning, it just makes me happy that I’m able to help people,” she explained.
Mercy Chefs has crossed over the 100,000 meal mark for the Hampton Roads area and they will continue to keep cooking for a long as they're needed.