Normally on the move, Mercy Chefs stays put to feed neighbors in need during pandemic


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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – A locally-based nonprofit known for its disaster response will stay to serve its home base during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mercy Chefs is preparing 10,000 restaurant-quality meals every week out of its Portsmouth kitchen and serving them up to seniors, children and others who can’t leave their homes during the pandemic.

It’s a departure from the usual mission of Mercy Chefs, which responds to major disasters all over the country and internationally.

The crew prepares fresh meals in mobile kitchens for people whose homes and communities have been destroyed.

The pandemic is different from a hurricane or an earthquake, but Mercy Chefs founder Gary LeBlanc says his organization is still uniquely equipped to respond.

“This is a calamity that’s affected our entire country, the entire world,” he said. “We’re picking that piece that we’re able to touch and make a difference in, and then doing everything that we can to demonstrate love to our neighbors through a plate of food.”

Normally served fresh, volunteers now pack the meals into containers that are ready for the freezer and microwave, so that recipients can get a few days’ worth of meals in a single delivery.

Mercy Chefs is still looking for volunteers. To help, visit

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