McDonald's makes deal to help during a crisis

Delmar store would supply food to emergency shelters

An informal agreement has been struck between the Town of Bethlehem and a Delmar McDonald's branch that would see the Delaware Avenue restaurant donating food to area shelters in the event of an emergency situation.

The \gentleman's agreement is set to be officially announced Tuesday, July 20. John Brennan, director of the town's Emergency Management Office, said while the plan amounts to a handshake at the moment, it may be formalized later.

In the event of a large-scale emergency, the town opens up Town Hall and other locations as emergency shelters and, if need be, seeks donations of food to feed those displaced. Area businesses are usually forthcoming and generous in making contributions, said Brennan, but this is the first time an arrangement has been worked out ahead of time.

"It's a basic effort on behalf of McDonald's to be the good neighbor that they are, and to put something into place where we're not reacting, we're proactive," Brennan said. "It's a win-win for the town and the residents during a time in our lives when people may need help."

A perfect example would be during the ice storm of 2008, he continued, during which thousands of town residents lost power for days and had to seek out shelters in order to stay warm.

In fact, the partnership was largely born out of a conversation Brennan and McDonald's representative Jose Medina had after the ice storm, when the Delmar restaurant made donations to the shelters.

"We're playing the supportive role," Medina said. "Anytime there's a big catastrophe, McDonald's has always helped out."

If the restaurant itself loses power for any long period of time, it has to evacuate the food anyways, he said, so donating it to where it's needed makes sense. The food can be transported to another location if the restaurant can't cook it on site.

Both parties said the informal partnership could become a model for other municipalities.

"A lot of towns don't have a plan when something happens. ... We certainly see there are implications for this program to broaden," Medina said.

McDonald's made a donation of a different kind on Tuesday, July 13, when between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m. 20 percent of the store's proceeds were donated to the town's food pantry, which is an arm of the Senior Services Department.""

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