Last fall, Bidwell Junior High School in Chico, Calif., acted as a Red Cross shelter for those impacted by the Camp Fire. The district’s director of nutrition services, Vince Enserro, shares what it was like working with the Red Cross and how he made sure the partnership went as smoothly as possible.
FSD: Were there any challenges with the process?
VE: The biggest thing for us was finding out that at the Red Cross, there is a person in charge of your facility, but then there’s a whole bunch of other people that are in charge of very specific departments on your facility. So there’s somebody who’s responsible for the kitchen, someone who’s responsible for beds, there’s people responsible for trash. The couple of people at the Red Cross that were the captains, their attention was being needed by an awful lot of people, so trying to delineate between who is who and who is my go-to person was sometimes confusing. Once we got through that, it made it a lot easier.
With so many people and moving parts, how did you make sure you connected with the people you needed?
I’m very hands on. So I did my due diligence. I didn’t let people just say, “Oh yeah, we’ll come over there and get to you.” I wasn’t rude, but I was kind of like, “Hey, I need your attention here for a second. I need to know who is going to be in charge of the kitchen so I can work directly with them because I’m trying to get you guys set up and ready to go.” So you really do have to not let anyone shove you aside in a “Hey we’ll get to you” kind of a thing. The Red Cross was good, they got us to the person that we needed. It really went very quickly at that point. Once you found the person you needed to talk to, it was very reassuring, and I really didn’t think much about it after that.
Do you have any tips for operators who may work with the Red Cross during a disaster in the future?
I think the biggest thing is just to have patience in the whole process and remembering that these people just went through a traumatic experience, and they’re out of their comfort zone. It’s just being compassionate to their needs and understanding.