Due to the unprecedented national disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina, America’s Second Harvest - The Nation’s Food Bank Network has cancelled their 2005 annual conference. Marriott International, Inc. has allowed the Network to cancel its contract for the event, allowing America’s Second Harvest to continue to focus its efforts on providing urgently needed food and water to the victims of the killer hurricane. “We are grateful to Marriott International for their compassion and understanding in this time of great need,” said Robert Forney, President and CEO of America’s Second Harvest. “We appreciate their support as we continue our around-the-clock efforts to provide critical supplies to those impacted by the hurricane.”
America’s Second Harvest has already dispatched over 99 truckloads from around the country, carrying over 3 million pounds of food and grocery product, to America’s Second Harvest food banks located in disaster stricken areas. The food banks will collect the supplies and pack them into relief boxes for distribution to the more than 250 emergency shelters in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida and surrounding states where more than 500,000 evacuees are expected to arrive in the coming days.
“We understand the responsibility America’s Second Harvest has to the people and communities that have been severely affected by this natural disaster. While we are disappointed to have to cancel the 2005 annual conference we believe this is the best course of action to support their relief efforts,” John Dawsey, Director of Sales & Marketing at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa.
The three-day meeting was to feature workshops, speakers, and awards as America’s Second Harvest commemorated its 25th anniversary. Every year the America’s Second Harvest Network serves over 23 million Americans, including more than 9 million children and nearly 3 million seniors. The conference is being rescheduled in Vail for the same period in 2007.
It is estimated that the response needs in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi will take months of intense work. The America’s Second Harvest national office is coordinating efforts to amass donations of food and water and emergency supplies to facilities in the Gulf Coast. In response to Hurricane Dennis earlier this season, companies donated more than 480,000 pounds of food and grocery product to affected areas. During the 2004 hurricanes that hit the southeast, an unprecedented 7 million pounds of food, water, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, diapers and baby formula were donated to the America’s Second Harvest Network to assist hurricane victims in nine states and Puerto Rico.