BBQ Community Organization Rally’s Together: Operation BBQ Relief

BY: Richard Wachtel
Published: March 8, 2012


There are many aspects that I love about the Barbecue community, one of  those aspects  are when people are in really need rally together and form great organizations to help not only just a segment of the community but serve the community at large.  Towards to end of last year, I got an email from Stan Hays who is the Executive Director of Operation Barbecue Relief. After doing research and talking with Stan, I quickly learned that this organization does amazing work, so I was happy to write this article on this great and important organization.

Operation Barbecue Relief a 501 (c) 3 was founded in May of 2011 by Jeff Stith, Will Cleaver and Stan Hays in response to the need for relief efforts in tornado-stricken Joplin, Missouri. In the wake of this nearly unprecedented destruction, competition barbecue teams from eight states answered the call to help feed displaced families and police, fire, National Guard and other emergency personnel.  The group served over 120,000 barbecue meals in less than two weeks now that is a lot of “Que.” As a result of efforts in Joplin, Operation BBQ Relief was born. In the days following the tornado the BBQ community came together to help the victims and first responder’s that needed a warm meal, with a smiling face and a sense of compassion from a group of strangers. Through social media and the news media the word spread of what we were doing in Joplin.  With assistance from Kookers Kare another nonprofit and great barbecue organization that helped raise money and from generosity of other companies like Sam’s Club, Farmers Insurance, OK Foods and many more Stan, Jeff, Will and their barbecue friends were quickly up and running in Joplin and cooking food by Tuesday evening.  Over the next eleven days in Joplin, Operation BBQ Relief cooked over 60,000 pounds of food or more than 120,000 meals.  There is something comforting about barbecue shared with friends and family and in Joplin; the barbecue community came together like a big family. The Joplin operation was used as a model for future disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, floods and other tornadoes.  Now, Operation BBQ Relief is ready to respond to natural disaster emergencies anywhere in the United States.

operation bbq relief

Here is a brief history of how Operation Barbecue Relief has responded to natural events in 2011 and even early 2012:

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania   (September, 2011)   Hurricane Irene left the east coast of the U.S. saturated.  Tropical Storm Lee coming in on its coat tails spelled disaster for Harrisburg, PA in September.  Severe flooding in the capital city and nearby York, PA forced over 20,000 people from their homes. Operation BBQ Relief was there to feed 5,000 meals to displaced families and emergency response personnel over a three day period.

Jefferson County, Alabama (January, 2012)  In the early morning hours of January 22, death and destruction would return to an Alabama still recovering from the devastating hit it received the previous April.  Several tornadoes ripped through the east and north suburbs of Birmingham, completely destroying over 250 homes and damaging hundreds more.  Over 500 people were injured with two fatalities.  Operation BBQ Relief volunteers again jumped to action and in four days on the ground, were able to serve over 5,700 meals to survivors and rescue personnel.

More recently, in the wake of the damage in the Midwest Operation Barbecue Relief once again kicked into high gear and went to work on helping their surrounding communities by providing meals to help feed displaced families and police, fire, National Guard and other emergency personnel. Also recently, Mike Mills and the gang from the 17th Street Bar and Grill  joined up with Operation BBQ Relief the help their surrounding communities provide meals.

I am happy to say that I fully support this great organization and I suggest following them on Twitter and liking them on Facebook. You can learn more about Operation BBQ Relief at: www.OperationBBQRelief.org or on Facebook and Twitter.  Please visit the Web site and register on the registration tab if you are interested in volunteering.  You can also donate to the organization on their Web site your donation is tax-decituble so if you ever neede

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Richard Wachtel

Richard Wachtel

Editor and Chef and Founder at Grilling with Rich
Born and raised in Long Island, New York Richard Wachtel has developed a passion for all things about barbecue and grilling and sharing this love with the world through social media, digital marketing and blogging about his cooking adventures on his website www.GrillingWithRich.com. Richard has interviewed the top names in barbecue and grilling such as four-time BBQ Grand World Champion Chris Lilly, and other world class pitmasters such as Myron Mixon, Melissa Cookston, and Tuffy Stone... just to name a few. In addition, GrillingwithRich.com has become a BBQ authority for media outlets and has been citied in many online publications such as: Yahoo News, Freinds Eat.com and USA Today’s Men’s Health. Rich lives just outside the nation's capital in Virginia with his wife, and #1 tastetester - his beagle, Cooper.
Richard Wachtel

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