MANSFIELD, OH (WCMH) — An innovative mobile kitchen is being sent to Puerto Rico courtesy of the Ohio Nation Guard units out of Mansfield and Springfield.
The mobile kitchen, called a Disaster Relief Mobile Kitchen Trailer, (DRMKT) is being airlifted first to Florida for a fuel stop, then on to Puerto Rico. Guard leaders said it means the difference between eating cold packaged meals ready to eat (MREs) to two different hot meals for first responders working on the island.
Fifteen Ohio National Guard Airmen will man the mobile kitchen, which is being deployed on its first real disaster. The kitchen can be set up in 90 minutes and feed up to 1,000 first responders.
Guard units said they were notified of the deployment Friday night, and by Wednesday they were packed and ready to go.
As airmen were loading a guard bus for a short ride to the plane one airman leaned in and said “let’s do it.”
“A typical meal could be scrambled eggs for breakfast with some potatoes and pancakes. For lunch you could do a spaghetti meal,” said Captain Evan Howard, of the 179th Ohio Air Guard stationed in Mansfield.
Guard officials said to imagine what it would be like working 16 hour days with no electricity and only eating cold meals. “That’s what hot meals do; they increase the morale,” Captain Howard said.
This kitchen has been tested, but this is its first time in a disaster area.
“It is rapidly deployable. It can go on as cargo for an airlift, so we can get it there and as long as we have the fuel and water we need we can have a meal up and running in 90 minutes,” said the senior NCO SMSgt. Garth Eldridge.
The sides fold out on the kitchen with hot tables all meant to set up fast and crank out hot food.
According to a colonel of the local guard, those 15 airmen could be in a rural section on the south side of Puerto Rico for up to 45 days. But the kitchen could be there for months as they rotate crews in and out.