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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Kennedy Dining Hall to serve as distribution hub during emergencies

Nino Correa Filomeno, commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Management and Disaster Administration

By The Star Staff

Bureau of Emergency Management and Disaster Administration (NMEAD by its Spanish acronym) Commissioner Nino Correa Filomeno and Chef Iván Clemente of the non-profit organization Comedor de la Kennedy (Kennedy Dining Hall) in San Juan have signed an agreement to establish Comedor de la Kennedy as a “Community Hub” or community center to help citizens in times of emergencies or disasters.

The Kennedy Dining Hall becomes a MACRO POD, serving as a distribution point for food or donations to MICRO PODS, smaller community centers such as churches and nonprofit entities.

The main objective of the “Community Hubs” is to establish cooperative ties between nonprofit, faith-based and community organizations to help the community prepare for disasters, assist them during the emergency response process and support them during recovery.

“NMEAD has about 100 ‘Community Hubs’ around the island. If the emergencies we have had to deal with in recent years have taught us anything, it is that individual, family and community preparedness is essential to be able to move forward,” Correa Filomeno said. “We cannot depend only on the government or external aid. We have to establish these ties in the communities to be able to help each other.”

“For me, it is a privilege to sign this agreement with Chef Iván Clemente, whom I know and recognize for his titanic work to help the community, especially children and the elderly, so they can have food,” the NMEAD chief continued. “Clemente has been carrying out this work since 2009, and we are honored to be able to count on his help when we have to go out to the streets to help people in the middle of an emergency. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to Puerto Rico.”

Clemente said that “[w]ith this agreement, we will ensure that no food or resources are lost in Puerto Rico in times of disaster.”

“We will make every effort to take care of what we can get our hands on for the people,” he said. “This agreement means joining efforts to defend a country that has suffered profoundly in previous disasters.”

El Comedor de la Kennedy, located on the John F. Kennedy Expressway in the capital city, works to eradicate Puerto Rico’s lack of food security. Clemente and his staff pack and deliver around 3.5 million pounds of food a month, free of charge, to about 2,000 children and 3,000 older people a week at 60 gathering points across the island.

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