Coast caterer waits for green light to help in Haiti relief

By Sylvia Hall – bio | email

ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) - Sous-chef Marlon Wilson is no stranger to disaster, or using his culinary skills in its wake.  As an employee of F&B Catering, he's served food to victims of Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, as well as other natural disasters.

"You have to react because it's human nature," Wilson said.  "So we have to do what we have to do.  Its like helping another neighbor when they're down and out.

Owner Craig Fant said through a contract with the Red Cross, F&B Catering served 15,000 meals each day in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. Since then, he said his business has become well-versed in feeding the masses, responding to disasters across the nation.  He hopes their next destination is Haiti.

"We can provide 45,000 meals, three times a day," said Fant.  "We have 200 employees that are ready to go.  We have diesel trucks, water trucks, we have sleeping quarters for our people.  Everything that we're ready to roll over and serve food today."

Fant has six mobile kitchens situated inside semi-trucks.  He would need to fly them, along with other equipment, into the earthquake-ravaged nation.  He's ready to go, but so far hasn't been given approval.

"The American Red Cross actually wrote me today and said that they don't see a need right this second," Fant said.

But Fant said the images he's seen on the news suggest otherwise.  He isn't taking no for an answer just yet.

"I've been on the phone with Senator Wicker, Cochran and Lott today, Governor Barbour also, trying to get through, because it's going to be a federal thing."

He hopes authorities will act fast to help him get there.

"By the time you get down there, set up tents, set up tables and everything, get your ground zero set up; it's going to be a week before you can produce the first meal," Fant said.  "So it's very important that they push the button now and quit waiting around for anything to happen."

As the hours tick by, Fant remains hopeful he and his culinary team will bring relief into Haiti soon.

"I hope we get the opportunity to go," Fant said.  "I would hope that our resume and what we've done in the past speaks for itself and we'll get to go down there."

Fant said even during disasters, his kitchen prepares every meal from scratch.  He's already started researching Haitian food so he'll be prepared to cook to please.

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