National disaster relief organization raises profile and serves more than 20 million meals

Mercy Chefs logo

Increased awareness through earned media in national and local outlets helped increase donations to Mercy Chefs

Client Goal: Raise organization profile and awareness to increase donors and, ultimately, the organization’s ability to serve meals to those in need.

Mercy Chefs, a Virginia-based disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization that serves chef-prepared meals in national emergencies and natural disasters, wanted to raise awareness about its work with the goal of increasing donations and, ultimately, the number of meals served to people in need. The organization turned to The Hodges Partnership for ongoing media relations support. Since 2018, Hodges has helped Mercy Chefs raise its national profile by nurturing media relationships, garnering significant coverage and elevating founder Gary LeBlanc as a subject matter expert in times of disaster.

The positive external buzz has contributed to significant growth and changes, changes that have led to more fundraising dollars, more employees and more meals served.


  • Since 2018, Mercy Chefs has served more than 18 million meals, compared to only 2 million meals in the organization’s first 12 years in operation.
  • Secured media coverage and interviews in outlets like Good Morning America, PBS Newshour, Associated Press, CNN and Southern Living

Why’d It Work?

Mercy Chefs may be the busiest client we’ve ever met – regularly traveling around the country (and the world) to respond to the latest disaster with chef-prepared meals for victims, first responders and on-the-ground volunteers alike.  While it’s typically not a great idea to bother the cook, Mercy Chefs recognized the value in carving out some time to tell their story to the news media, and raising its profile the last few years has made all the difference. 

Prior to working with Hodges, Mercy Chefs focused almost exclusively on the task at hand – traveling to disaster sites, setting up mobile kitchens, working with local disaster coordinators on the ground and serving up delicious meals to the masses. While those efforts continue today, Gary LeBlanc and his incredible team now also carve out time to work with Hodges in maximizing media opportunities. By seeking out and responding to news outlets – from national network morning shows to cable outlets to high-profile print publications – Mercy Chefs has been able to raise its visibility and broaden awareness about its work.  And by so doing, it has multiplied its reach and effectiveness exponentially.  Today, greater visibility has meant more donations which, in turn, have led to a larger capacity to respond to those in need.