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The Food Marketing Institute released the following statement on Wednesday:

    Hundreds of supermarkets recovering from Hurricane Katrina need immediate help to prepare their stores for the return of families who evacuated their communities, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) said today, responding to requests from Congress and the Department of Homeland Security for disaster relief recommendations.

    “These Americans deserve clean, safe and abundant food on day one when they return — particularly after all they’ve been through,” said FMI President and CEO Tim Hammonds, noting that food retailers can serve them best if the government provides the support needed as they clean, sanitize, rebuild and restock their stores. Helping small, family-owned businesses, he said, is especially critical since their operations may be concentrated in the hardest-hit areas.

    “Whenever disaster strikes,” Hammonds emphasized, “the food industry is always among the first to respond. Retailers always act with urgency and compassion, which is rooted in a commitment to their communities and to their neighbors who are the customers they serve every day. Having supermarkets up and running is essential to restoring a sense of normalcy to people’s lives.”

    FMI provided Congress a comprehensive list of industry needs. The most important immediate requests include:

    • Restore communications to serve America’s neediest so retailers can accept food stamps, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program vouchers and other government benefits.

    • Give the necessary inoculations, vaccines and boosters to food industry employees in infected disaster areas.

    • Expedite the removal of debris and provide security for employees and shoppers in stores and along distribution routes.

    • Allocate fuel to supermarkets and wholesalers on a priority basis to ensure that food and other essential goods are delivered quickly to stores in disaster relief areas.

    • Offer incentives for companies to hire displaced workers, including the newly homeless and people without verifiable paperwork.
KC's View:
While we agree that getting supermarkets up and running is critical to getting New Orleans moving again, the impression we get from all the coverage we’ve been watching (and we’ve seen dozens of hours of it…the reporting has by and large been exceptional) is that the first things people want to get operating there are the bars, the jazz clubs and the restaurants (not necessarily in that order), because those things reflect the spirit of the city.

As for us, we can’t wait for our next trip to the French Quarter. And we can tell Mrs. Content Guy that we’re actually doing our civic duty.