Sysco Food Services of New Orleans, LLC, located in Harahan, LA, which has been closed since Aug. 30, is primarily focusing on emergency relief shipments to aid workers, medical treatment facilities and evacuee shelters.

Kenneth F. Spitler, executive vice president of Sysco and president of its North American foodservice operations, said, "Our New Orleans facility escaped any significant structural damage and its backup generator allowed the inventory to remain intact. The operation established temporary headquarters in Baton Rouge and assisted in supplying products to the hurricane relief effort in the days following Katrina's destruction."

During the temporary closure of the New Orleans facility, Sysco's Houston, Dallas and central Alabama subsidiaries serviced those customers in the outlying New Orleans market that remained open.

"Sysco's first priority is the safety and well-being of our associates," continued Spitler. "We have been in contact with 430 of the 435 associates who are employed at our New Orleans operation, and nearly 300 of those employees are currently working at other Sysco companies. I am very proud of the resiliency shown by our New Orleans associates and the generosity our entire Sysco family has conveyed as we recover from this tragic event."

Spitler added that Sysco's Jackson, MS, operation was also temporarily shut down due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina. The company returned to normal distribution levels immediately after the storm passed through the region and experienced an increase in product demand due to Sysco's assistance in providing meals to the evacuees and relief workers.

"We are also supporting the Red Cross relief efforts in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast through our partnership with them by supplying products from our companies all over the country," continued Spitler. "In addition to significant and in-kind financial donations, we recently refurbished three trailers as self-contained mobile kitchens to be used by the Red Cross. The first of these trailers is currently stationed in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and is serving approximately 9,000 hot meals each day to displaced citizens."

For additional ID Access stories on distributors' efforts in the aftermath of Katrina's devastation, click on Sept. 16 and Sept. 9.

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