'Modern Marvel': Baptist disaster relief kitchen
The popular History Channel show "Modern Marvels" has featured the North Carolina Baptist Men's disaster relief unit "Manna One" in one of its episodes.
Focusing on food trucks, Modern Marvels shows how Manna One can transform from an 18-wheel rig into a fully operational kitchen in about three hours. At 40 feet long, more than eight feet wide and 24,000 pounds, the unit was described as "one of the biggest food trucks ever built."
N.C. Baptist Men's disaster relief ministry began using Manna One in 2007. The unit is one of the group's 80 disaster relief components, five of which are mobile kitchens. That number does not include disaster relief and recovery units owned by churches and Baptist associations in the state.
But those involved in the disaster relief ministry say none quite matches up to Manna One's efficiency.
"We can pull this kitchen in if we have no water, no electricity or anything," John Gore, N.C. Baptist Men's incident commander for the Williamston area, said in the episode.
"We can set it up and run."
In August 2011, Manna One fed more than 46,000 people after Hurricane Irene struck the East Coast. The disaster left more than 1 million people in the state without power.
Similar but smaller relief units also were used to provide meals when a deadly tornado hit North Carolina's Davidson and Randolph counties last November.
"We've responded to more disasters this year than ever before," Gaylon Moss, North Carolina Baptists' director of disaster relief, said near the end of 2011. "I think we're at 19 responses right now."
When big disasters involving hurricanes and floods strike, Manna One often is the go-to unit.
"What Manna One brought to us was an efficient mass-feeding platform that streamlined our ability to heat and serve food in a quick manner," Moss said.
"Prior to Manna One, the system was to unload a truck, unload the trailer which is basically a warehouse on wheels..... [W]e set up our stuff, and we cooked it."
Though Manna One is a sophisticated piece of equipment, Moss noted that the volunteers are the ones who make it run.
Setting up and tearing down usually involves a crew of nine to 12 people.
"They're the ones who scrub it, clean it, manage it, do all the heavy lifting," Moss said.
"They are the ones who really make it work."
Other Manna One highlights from the five-minute Modern Marvels segment include:
-- At full capacity the unit can support 60 cooks and serve up to 30,000 meals a day.
-- Each side of the truck unfolds to form deck areas that help create a kitchen space of nearly 1,000 square feet.
-- The unit operates on a 45-kilowatt generator that can provide enough energy "to power up a small town."
-- 1,296 patties of meat can be cooked at one time in less than 15 minutes.
-- Two automatic can openers are able to open 12 large cans of food a minute.
To see the full episode of Modern Marvels, first aired in mid-November, go to http://youtu.be/4dolhipQHlY. (Note: Manna One coverage begins at the 12:05 minute mark in the 45-minute video.)
This article originally appeared in the Biblical Recorder (BRnow.org), newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. To learn more about N.C. Baptist Men's disaster relief ministry, follow them on Facebook or contact them at 1-800-395-5102, ext. 5605, or baptistsonmission.org.