The Christie Administration today presented The Salvation Army with three feeding trucks that collectively can prepare and serve 30,000 hot meals a day during an emergency or natural disaster. With $870,000 in federal grant funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS) purchased the custom-made vehicles to support The Salvation Army’s efforts to feed large communities during major disasters.
“In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, volunteer organizations provided over 4.5 million meals in the impacted counties,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “The ability to quickly prepare food for individuals during an emergency is critical, and these unique vehicles will enhance the state’s response.”
The feeding trucks are 40 feet long and 13 feet tall. They can be driven to shelters or any large-scale emergency locations and quickly begin serving meals to first responders and disaster survivors.
DHS and The Salvation Army worked with Custom Mobile Food to design what officials believe is the first feeding truck in the country that can serve 10,000 people within four hours of arriving at a disaster site. Food can be served directly on site or transported to Salvation Army canteens or American Red Cross feeding sites.
The vehicles are equipped with large onboard diesel generators and two large propane tanks, enabling them to operate without access to an electrical outlet. They each contain two large refrigerators, three built-in freezers, two 30-gallon tilting skillets, four sinks, a staff bathroom, on board waste and water holding tanks.
DHS worked closely with The Salvation Army, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, and the New Jersey Department of Treasury to obtain the federal grant and finalize a memorandum of understanding to provide and operate the vehicles.
Custom Mobile Food Equipment of Hammonton was awarded the contract last October to customize the vehicles, which allow for almost immediate meal delivery upon arrival at a disaster site. DHS is temporarily keeping the vehicles in Winslow Township at its warehouse until The Salvation Army is able to transport them to its own holding sites.
“Ensuring that affected populations and first responders receive a hot meal after a large scale emergency is a top priority,” said Edward Dickson, Director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (OHSP). “Investing federal homeland security funds to purchase these feeding trucks for The Salvation Army enhances the state’s emergency readiness and resiliency, and equally important, provides for disaster survivors and responders during their time of need.”
Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police and State Director of the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, also noted the importance of having the vehicles in New Jersey.
"Adverse conditions often present situations where community members do not have access to food or hot meals. These mobile kitchens will enhance our mass care capabilities, and the ability to provide food to disaster survivors," said Colonel Fuentes.
“The Salvation Army is appreciative of the state's trust and support to ensure that during catastrophic events, we will be able to meet the needs of first responders, survivors and volunteers,” said Major Donald Berry, New Jersey Divisional Commander with The Salvation Army. “This initiative is an example of continued collaborations between units of state government, The Salvation Army and our community partners.”
The standard Salvation Army canteen is capable of serving 1,500 meals per day, and although The Salvation Army has access to a larger field kitchen, that unit requires special electrical and sanitary connections and often is deployed to emergencies in other parts of the country.