The emergency created by Hurricane Irene as it cut across Puerto Rico over the past few days activated members of the Puerto Rico Restaurants Association, which in conjunction with the government delivered nearly 200 meals to people who were forced to seek shelter from the storm.
Humberto Rovira, president of the trade group known as ASORE by its initials in Spanish, told News is my Business that upon getting a call from La Fortaleza, restaurants Burger King and Pizza Hut delivered hot food to shelters in Loíza and Ponce.
“The first deliveries took place today [Wednesday], but our member restaurants are available to continue working with La Fortaleza as much and as long as it is necessary,” Rovira said.
La Fortaleza said Wednesday that more than 600 people had sought shelter at 18 facilities set up in San Juan, Ponce, Guayama, Coamo, Arroyo, Patillas, Salinas, Humacao, Juncos, Canóvanas, Carolina, Loíza and Fajardo. While Burger King delivered meals to shelters in Loíza, Pizza Hut followed suit in Ponce.
“Our industry has always been present in these situations that affect our people. This time is no exception. We are operating to meet the needs of our people and we are bringing food to shelters,” Rovira said.
“Just hours after the hurricane passed, before 8 a.m., our members were serving hot breakfast, and as soon as they regained power and water service at their own restaurants, they were serving hot food to the general public,” he noted.
Aside from filling up stomachs, in the case of Burger King, the restaurant also allowed the public to access the Internet and recharge their electronic equipment, at no cost, as News is my Business witnessed at an Isla Verde location Wednesday.
“Most of the time, people see us as merely commercial establishments. And while it’s true that we have a commercial interest, that does not take away the fact that as our members were able to do so, they opened their doors to serve the general population,” Rovira said.
This is not the first time that ASORE members have volunteered their services in the wake of an emergency. In October 2010, when the former Caribbean Petroleum facilities exploded in Bayamón, the “majority of our members participated, delivering meals to firefighters, emergency personnel and police officers who were handling the emergency. Doing this type of thing is not uncommon in our industry,” Rovira concluded.