YMCA Chef Rallies Culinary Community to Provide 5,000+ Meals Following Pulse Shootings

In times of celebration and sorrow, food brings people together and offers comfort.

So when Orlando was rocked by the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, Gary Appelsies, YMCA Director of Healthy Eating, knew what to do.

By creating the Facebook group, “Culinary Cares: In Support of Pulse Orlando,” Appelsies rallied local chefs, caterers, restaurateurs, and others to deliver more than 5,000 meals – and comfort – to where it was needed the most.

More than 100 businesses responded by delivering meals, snacks, and beverages to Orlando Health, local LGBT centers, One Blood, and other locations where victims’ families and first responders gathered.

"In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, our community responded in huge and meaningful ways,” said Appelsies, a professional chef and certified nutritionist.

“Food comforts people and provides emotional support. The food feels good. It brings people together. It was humbling to help in any way we could."