By Ryan Richardson Joplin Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. — Members of the Salvation Army of Joplin rolled out a new $100,000 mobile canteen Tuesday that will help provide disaster relief to area residents and could be used for future relief efforts across the country.
The mobile canteen is equipped to serve 1,500 meals per day and will be stationed in Joplin. In the past, the Joplin Salvation Army shared a canteen with Springfield and Branson.
During the dedication for the vehicle, Salvation Army Lt. James Curry said that the vehicle will help increase the reach of the Joplin Salvation Army.
“When the May 22 tornado hit Joplin, Pittsburg’s unit showed up quickly without being called in that night,” Curry said. “That’s the kind of reach that we want to have in other communities. We want a unit to be able to help not only in disasters, but to be able to feed and help those who are hungry. This vehicle gives us that opportunity.”
Joplin’s canteen will join a fleet of 14 other mobile canteens stationed in Missouri. Each canteen is equipped with two microwaves that can be converted in to full-size ranges, a refrigerator, a three-sink cleaning area and several stacks of warming trays for hot meals. There is also a powered generator, propane access and water on the truck.
“We can load a hot meal in here and six hours later and they can still be ready to roll out,” Curry said. “Those can be ready to be rolled out while we are cooking other meals here. We’re equipped to be full service here to get those meals out to people in their time of need.”
During the May 22, 2011 tornado, the Salvation Army served more than 10,000 meals in a two-week period following the storm. City officials celebrated the efforts of the Salvation Army since the tornado and commemorated the dedication of the canteen with a ribbon cutting ceremony by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Pro Tem Bill Scearce spoke on behalf of the city.
“Anything that helps the Salvation Army do more is something that can benefit every community they are in,” Scearce said. “I’m still amazed by what they have done and what they will do.”
The mobile unit was donated by Beacon Roofing Supply — which operates in Joplin as RSM Supply — as a continued partnership with the Salvation Army over the past six years. Peter Lippert, who represented Beacon, said it was the third mobile canteen that the company has donated.
“Our company has similar values as the Salvation Army and that is why we have continued to work with them in communities across the country,” Lippert said. “We value our employees and their families and it is our goal to take keep their values and needs taken care of. That is how the Salvation Army treats their communities. They are always there for them during times of need.”
Salvation Army Advisory Board member Dave Evans said that the van will be an asset to the surrounding area because of the shorter response time to Jasper County residents.
“It is a tremendous asset to us to have this here because Jasper County has the highest annual average of tornadoes,” Evans said. “We can be on the ground and responding as quickly as possible to people in our own backyard. This is possible because of donations and we’re happy to be here to celebrate what Beacon Roofing could with us today.”