Dream Dinners Community Bands Together to Aid in Hurricane Relief

The last few weeks have been tough on Texas, Florida and the Gulf Coast. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma made landfall back to back, causing extensive damage; even affecting members of our Dream Dinners family. Despite our communities being evacuated and closed stores, our team reacted quickly to aid those needing assistance. We talk about being committed to serving others through our mission, but events like this showcase how our dedicated franchisees do this without thinking twice about it.

Pinecrest, FL Dream Dinners Donates More than $4,000 in Inventory to Community

Nina Ortiz, owner of the Pinecrest Dream Dinners, understood the impact and potential liabilities that Hurricane Irma would soon deliver to her community. Watching the storm pass through on Saturday night and into Sunday morning, the inevitable finally happened—no power. When the power went out, so did her store’s six fully-stocked refrigerators filled with prepared meals, sides and desserts.

Anticipating a full loss of inventory, she quickly turned to social media to offer all of her Dream Dinners sides and meals her team prepped to anyone who stopped by.

“Knowing that the inventory would soon be a complete loss, I simply couldn’t just throw it out, I needed to ensure it went to families throughout the community. Making sure that people had warm food on their tables was so important and my first priority,” said Ortiz.

pinecrest-billent-familyWith more than 600,000 people in Miami still without power, this would be their first real meal in days.

She turned to Facebook to announce the free meals with posts on her personal and business page and created several Facebook Live videos. Friends sent texts, tagged their friends and quickly more than $4,000 in inventory was distributed a day after Irma’s rage subsided. By the end of the day, even the local fire station took her up on her generosity.

“We had fully prepared meals, salmon filets, steak, shrimp and chicken, plus a number of sides – everything was distributed,” she said. “What started as an agonizing and depressing day, ended in neighbors coming together, hugging each other, generously donating avocados to share and trying to contribute in any way they could. It truly couldn’t have ended better.”

Pearland Dream Dinners Donates All Fight Against Hunger Meals to Brazoria County in Texas

The Pearland Dream Dinners team had already planned to host a Fight Against Hunger event in September to assemble food packs designed to reverse the effects of malnutrition and starvation here and abroad. Pearland Dream Dinners owner Tania Monroy had slated a majority of the packaged meals to go to Haiti.

Then Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, and plans abruptly changed.

Luckily, the Dream Dinners store in Pearland was not extensively damaged. The team quickly sprang into action to discuss the logistics needed to distribute all the packed meal to those needing assistance in the greater Houston area. 

In partnership with Sysco Corporate and 150 of their employees, the Dream Dinners Foundation was able to pack, box and distribute 40,000 meals to aid Harvey victims and on the following Saturday, about 350 volunteers from the Pearland community gathered at the new Hope Church in Manvel and held their second annual Fight Against Hunger event. Volunteers were able to pack more than 60,000 meals that remained in Brazoria County to help with relief efforts. The Pearland team was also able to raise $21,000 for the event.

Tina Kuna, Dream Dinners co-founder and vice president, landed days just days after the storm hit. She and the Dream Dinners’ team were also able to distribute water filtration systems to areas where FEMA and the Red Cross hadn’t been able to reach. With devastated infrastructure, water filtration systems were vital in some of the hardest hit areas.

“We’re very lucky that we had this event in place, and that it was scheduled about a week after Harvey hit,” said Monroy. “Our community’s tremendous spirit of generosity was on full display that weekend. Pearland area volunteers showed up in full force and exhibited the very meaning of service and what it means to be Houston Strong.”

To learn more about how you can participate in the Fight Against Hunger, visit LivingTheDreamFoundation.com.