DAKOTA DUNES | Beef Products Inc. is sending a handful of Siouxlanders to Texas this week and next week to prepare thousands of meals for Hurricane Harvey victims and volunteers.
Trucks containing food products and equipment left on Wednesday and should arrive by midday Friday, said Rich Jochum, BPI corporate administrator. Jochum said about 15 volunteers -- which include a mix of BPI employees, their families and other volunteers -- will travel down and back over the next two weeks and assist the Red Cross in serving meals.
The first volunteers left with the trucks and should be cooking meat by Saturday, he said. Others will come and go over the next 10 days.
In all, they are prepared to serve more than 50,000 meals.
The Siouxland products headed to Texas, which were either donated or sold to BPI at cost, include buns from Bimbo Bakery, chips from Frito-Lay, bottled water from Chesterman and 10,500 pounds of hamburger patties provided by Jensen Meats, a company that uses BPI's Lean Finely Textured Beef. BPI is also sending 6,000 pounds of its taco meat for nachos.
"Our people will go down to cook and prepare the product, then we'll hand it to the Red Cross to take care of the distribution," Jochum said. "It will go to people who are trying to recover from the hurricane or to support the relief workers who are also there."
Jochum said BPI has assisted in previous local disaster relief efforts, such as the tornadoes that hit the Wisner and Pilger area in Nebraska in 2014, but never on this scale.
"The need is apparent from watching the news," Jochum said. "This is a new venture for us, but we look at it as an opportunity to engage and to provide that kind of support and assistance."
Jochum said BPI currently has all the volunteers it needs but will make the public aware if it needs any more. Some local volunteers will drive to the Houston area while others will arrive via BPI's corporate jet. The Dakota Dunes-based company also is covering the volunteers' lodging and meals while they are stationed in southeast Texas.