This past summer, we shared how some of our Franchise Owners across the country help out in their community, living out the Filta motto of “Do the Right Thing.” Today, we want to keep the good vibes rolling and tell you about Gene Monteith, another owner who recently channeled his super power of community give back to send assistance to people recovering from Hurricane Ian, 400 miles south of him in Fort Myers, Fl.
It all started during another hurricane four years ago, Michael, which caused devastation to the Florida panhandle near Gene’s home base in Tallahassee.
As the storm approached in early October 2018, Gene and his wife Dawn got an idea, along with their good friends Keith and Carla Whitfield. Dawn and Carla grew up together in Blountstown and were still committed, connected and active in their hometown. So, when they learned that their small hometown community just 50 miles west of Tallahassee was hit hard with no power or utilities and roads blocked, the Whitfield and Monteith families felt called to help.
They rallied a 5th wheel, a 40-foot gooseneck trailer and loaded up with fryers, oil, and generators. They cooked at the corner of Main Street and Highway 20, the main intersection in Blountstown, and unofficial estimates are that they served 5,000 people in three days.
“We set up on that trailer and everyone just brought stuff from their freezers because they were hungry plus all that food was going to go to waste,” Gene explained. “I provided the fryers and oil, and people just came and ate. They couldn’t cook in their own homes and roads were blocked everywhere. It really felt good to provide some tangible help in Dawn and Carla’s hometown.”
Today, four years later, the Whitfield’s have the process down to a well-oiled system. They formed a non-profit food truck organization called Manna.Express and just pick up and go when the need arises. This is in addition to their “normal” day jobs, so it’s a real act of service to the larger community.
As Hurricane Ian was bearing down on South Florida, Manna.Express went into action and headed down to Fort Myers. Keith and Carla run the organization and Gene still sponsors the food truck’s fryers, donating all the oil then cleaning and recycling it for biodiesel fuel. When Filta HQ team learned of the Tallahassee non-profit and Gene’s donation for the Fort Myers expedition, they matched his donation.