The Blanco River overflowed its banks, resulting in epic flooding in Texas and leaving a swath of destruction and devastation throughout Wimberley and surrounding towns.
As part of Kellogg Company’s ongoing commitment to hunger relief, and through support from the Kellogg Company Fund, the Breakfasts for Better Days Disaster Relief team was deployed to provide cereal and snacks for residents living in the affected areas.
Julie B., Director of Philanthropy for Kellogg, accompanied the Texas relief team.
How did the decision to help Wimberly come about?
JULIE: Each year, there are thousands of natural and man-made disasters in the U.S. Obviously, we can’t be everywhere, and one of our most difficult decisions is where to send our disaster relief team. We consider the scale and scope of a disaster, and determine which resources are needed most. We also want to make sure the area is safe and secure, and that our presence will assist rescue and recovery efforts.
How do you manage the logistics of handing out food in a disaster zone?
JULIE: With most disaster sites, we set up in a central area where people can come and eat breakfast. But the Texas floods were much more widespread, and we needed to reach residents right where they were cleaning up. So we loaded up our food truck with Kellogg’s cereals and snacks, and drove around, block-by-block, house-by-house. People were amazed that Kellogg would send people all the way from Michigan to Texas, and they were surprised to see us in their own neighborhoods!
What was the reaction of the residents?
JULIE: Their stories were scary, heart breaking and yet inspiring. A woman told us that just before the flooding began, she had been hosting a graduation party with more than 100 people there. Fortunately, many had already departed. Those that remained jumped in their cars and drove up a hill to escape the fast rising waters. They were stranded there for quite some time, as the bridge across the river was completely washed out. Her home was completely gutted, and yet she and her neighbors were grateful to be alive. “We’re moving ahead,” she told us matter-of-factly. I’d like to think I could act as gracefully as these neighbors did, in the wake of such devastation.
How does Kellogg’s help local residents?
JULIE: Simply by providing food so that recovery efforts can keep going. One person told us he hadn’t eaten anything all day. He had been working nonstop, ripping up the wet carpeting in his home, and removing damaged drywall, trying to restore what was left of his house. “There was no time to leave and get a meal somewhere,” he told us. Kellogg bringing food directly to him (and so many others), meant that recovery workers would not have to worry about finding breakfast or snacks and they could stay focused on the cleanup. In addition to food delivered by the disaster relief team, the company provided 800,000 servings of Kellogg’s cereal, bars and snacks, to food banks in Feeding America’s national network to help those in the broader areas impacted by flooding.
How can others help?
JULIE: We encourage people to help us support Feeding America and those in need by donating online. Donations will help feed America's hungry, those that face the daily crisis of hunger and during times of disaster, through their nationwide network of food banks.
How has this affected you personally?
JULIE: As part of my job, I’ve visited a few of these disaster sites now. I continue to be amazed by people’s resilience during really difficult moments in their lives. They do what they need to do to recover their lives, and they appreciate our support so much. I feel compelled to come back and share the impact we made. These are important stories to tell. We were there when people needed us. We made a real difference.
The Texas disaster relief effort is part of Kellogg Company’s Breakfasts for Better Days commitment to provide 1 billion servings of cereal and snacks, more than half of which are breakfast, to those who need it most by 2016. In the past two years alone, more than 900 million servings of cereal and snacks, more than half of which were breakfast foods, have been donated to children and families around the world.