Operation 2
Skilled barbecue cooks play a major role in the mass feedings Operation BBQ relief undertakes. 

Disaster response


The inherent nature of natural disasters dictates certain planning and protocol for organizations and volunteers to effectively provide relief, otherwise the best of intentions could exponentially increase the chaos. OBR and its executive team members have worked together to ensure OBR operates as efficiently as possible. The continual effort of key members keeps OBR growing and perfecting the art of mass feedings in the face of disaster.

The OBR executive team asked Bryan Rappolo, currently director of disaster operations, to join the team after running some of the organization’s larger deployments, including one to Hammond, Louisiana. The Hammond deployment was one of OBR’s largest at the time, and Rappolo received overwhelming kudos for orchestrating the effort in the most efficient manner to date.

“The organization realized at that point that it was time to get some consistency with the way and the style they [deployments] were run so we could feed the most people in the most efficient way,” Rappolo says. “I’m not saying the way I do it is necessarily the best and only way; there are 10 ways to skin a cat. It’s just that with the people we’ve put in place under the operations side, we’ve found we like the system and it works the best in most disasters.”

OBR and its operations exist due to the number of dedicated volunteers willing to go toward a natural disaster scene and help the victims and first responders on site. But hundreds of willing volunteers showing up to a disaster with no direction or idea of what to do, or knowing if their presence is even necessary, doesn’t help anyone.

Dana Reed, chief volunteer officer, started with OBR in November of 2012, in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

“I saw the amazing work, though it was early on in the organization. I saw the impact they had, and it just made sense to stay with it and get more involved,” Reed says.

Over the last six years, Reed has worn many hats for OBR, from volunteer to organizing volunteer programs for OBR and coordinating state-level interactions with other volunteer groups. He’s also developed programs for state leads, made up of OBR volunteers trained in food safety, media relations and OBR protocols.

As the person that organizes and develops training and initiates OBR deployments to disaster sites, Reed and the executive team, as well as volunteers across the country all rely on communication and technology for seamless coordination and orderly deployments.