Agency Supplies Millions of Meals for Haitians
By Sara Moore
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 3, 2010 As part of the Defense Logistics Agency's ongoing support to humanitarian operations in earthquake-stricken Haiti, the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia recently supplied 2.7 million packaged meals to the Haitian people.
A Haitian girl receives a packaged meal from U.S. sailors assigned to the dock landing ship USS Carter Hall during a meal distribution event at a school in Birey, Haiti. The Defense Logistics Agency recently supplied 2.7 million meals to the U.S. Agency for International Development, which distributed them in the hardest-hit areas of the country. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Monique Hilley
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The center worked with its industry partners to supply the meals to the U.S. Agency for International Development, which joined with the World Food Program to distribute the meals in the hardest-hit areas of the country.
In addition to being DLA's troop support center, the Philadelphia center also serves as a first responder during emergencies and natural disasters. The supply center maintains a stock of meals that can be used in emergencies, and also has agreements in place with its industry partners to produce meals, explained Ray Miller, deputy director of subsistence operations.
These industry partners - about 20 vendors - are ready to go at a moment's notice, and often can provide millions of meals in just days, he said.
In the case of the earthquake in Haiti, officials at the Philadelphia center received a request to supply meals to USAID, then notified its industry partners of the requirement. Even though it was a Sunday night, Miller said, the vendors responded that same night and through the next morning.
Through this partnership, more than 2 million meals were available immediately to the center, and 22 million meals could have been sent over the next 15 days if needed, he said.
When USAID decided to use only what was readily available, the center shipped out 2.7 million meals, Miller said.
DLA is positioned to respond during emergencies, and over the years has partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide relief after hurricanes and other disasters, Miller said. DLA buys and ships packaged meals to FEMA, which stores or sends them to individual states, he explained. DLA also maintains its supply of meals for emergencies at the Philadelphia center.
"Between [DLA and FEMA], that is the only stock of food that is maintained in the United States for an emergency basis," he said. "We have the program set up that should a disaster hit, we are able then to tap into the industrial base to expand the availability of meals as we go on over time."
(Sara Moore works in the Defense Logistics Agency's strategic communications office.)