Mattie Rhodes Center distributes 400 meals to the Northeast community

Mattie Rhodes Center staff PHOTO/Elizabeth Orosco

Wednesday, May 6, the Mattie Rhodes Center in Northeast Kansas City handed out 400 meals to the community thanks to Operation BBQ and the Kansas City Missouri Fire Department. 

Operation BBQ Relief, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit disaster relief organization, has served over 3.2 million meals in 26 states since its founding in 2011.

Based in Kansas City, it was founded in May 2011 in response to a need for tornado relief efforts in Joplin, Missouri.

The organization recently launched a new initiative in the midst of COVID-19 that revives closed restaurants by utilizing their kitchens to provide free meals to those in need and those on the front lines. 

Scott Wagner, director of Northeast Alliance Together (NEAT) helps pass out meals to neighbors. PHOTO/Elizabeth Orosco

They have been making and distributing meals to front line workers, including the Kansas City Missouri Fire Department. 

Wednesday, the KCMO Fire Department volunteered to give all their food from Operation BBQ to communities in need and offered it to the Mattie Rhodes Center in Northeast Kansas City.

“Firefighters still have jobs,” said Kansas City, Missouri Fire Department Assistant Chief Jimmy Walker. “We, as a department, decided as a whole, we wanted to take some of these generous donations and give them to people who really need them. That’s why we partnered with Mattie Rhodes.”

Jimmy Walker with KCMO Fire Department (left), Scott Wagner, director of NEAT (center), and John Fierro, CEO of the Mattie Rhodes Center (right), team up to distribute meals to the community. PHOTO/Elizabeth Orosco

Cars parked along the streets, neighbors lined up along the sidewalks, and kids rode their bikes and scooters to the Mattie Rhodes Center to receive food. 

Alea Surender, youth development coordinator with the Mattie Rhodes Center who headed up the event, said Mattie Rhodes was happy to receive the food, knowing so many in the community needed it. 

“We got a call from Operation BBQ who was distributing food to healthcare workers, firefighters, police officers,” she said. “They went to the fire department to distribute some meals and they were kind enough to donate all those meals to us, so we quickly put this together and packaged up all the food they gave us and handed it out to the community members. We were also telling them about the other services that we offer, especially so people who aren’t current participants here can utilize those resources.”

Neighbors line up along the sidewalks, spaced 6-feet apart and wearing masks, to collect food. PHOTO/Elizabeth Orosco

A family receives food from the Mattie Rhodes Center, donated by Operation BBQ and the KCMO Fire Department. PHOTO/Elizabeth Orosco

As neighbors received their meals, the Mattie Rhodes staff also gave them information on upcoming rent, utility, and bill assistance. 

“We are in the works of putting together the process of it all, but it’s targeted toward undocumented folks that maybe have kids at home that live in the Indian Mound area,” said Surender. “We will be able to help them out with some rent, utility, and food assistance.”

As neighbors left with smiles, Walker said he was thankful to see the response. 

“What I hope that this does for the community is that, in this time of need, it shows the community coming together. We are all in this together.” 

John Fierro, CEO of the Mattie Rhodes Center, hands food and chocolate to a neighbor. PHOTO/Elizabeth Orosco

A happy Mattie Rhodes Center staff celebrates a successful meal distribution to the community. PHOTO/Elizabeth Orosco

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