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Presidential Chef Prepares Food for Red Cross Shelters
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Sara O'Brien
September 23, 2008

When one imagines an American Red Cross shelter for disaster victims, you might think the food will be nutritious but not necessarily the tastiest. You just might be wrong if Crossville Tennessee Red Cross volunteer Doug Scarlett has anything to do with it.

San Antonio, TX – Red Cross volunteer Maxine Ingram serves lunch in the shelter cafeteria.
San Antonio, TX – Red Cross volunteer Maxine Ingram serves lunch in the shelter cafeteria.

Scarlett, former Presidential Chef of Air Force One, loves to make food enjoyable even with a less than presidential budget. While in the Air Force, Scarlett received training from the Culinary Institute of America and was assigned to cook for President Lyndon Johnson aboard Air Force 1 in 1968. In those days, the president didn’t travel as much as they do today, and President Johnson suggested Scarlett look into helping the Red Cross when he wasn’t traveling with him. Scarlett said, “I wasn’t going to say no to the Commander-in-Chief.”

Since then Scarlett has assisted the Red Cross with kitchens and shelters as both a volunteer and an employee. Scarlett was the Chapter Executive of the American Red Cross Cumberland County (TN) chapter and is currently a volunteer member of the chapter’s Board of Directors. He runs his own catering business, Scarlett Catering, in Crossville.

This month, he managed a Red Cross shelter in Memphis for residents displaced by Hurricane Gustav. He returned home for a few days before receiving the call to help out in a Red Cross shelter in Houston following Hurricane Ike.

The American Red Cross continues to provide shelters across Texas and Louisiana, where Red Cross workers are focused on supplying food to thousands of residents who remain in need of emergency help following Hurricanes Ike and Gustav. To date, the Red has provided over 350,000 overnight stays in shelters and over 3 million meals. This response effort is likely to continue for months.

The Red Cross has also launched a national fundraising campaign to raise an initial $100 million to fill a Disaster Relief Fund depleted by an active year of disasters. The Disaster Relief Fund allows the Red Cross to provide emergency assistance to help victims of disasters meet their immediate needs for food, shelter, counseling and other critical services.

To make a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, log-on to www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). You can also use your cell phone to donate $5 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by text messaging they keyword "GIVE" to "2HELP" (24357). You can send multiple donations depending on your carrier. Contributions will appear on monthly bills or be debited from a pre-paid account balance. All applicable text rates apply.

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