“On Sunday (February 14), I noticed (while out looking for batteries) a truck pile-up on I-20. I didn’t think about it again until Monday. Then the Holy Spirit said I had stuff to do,” Clinton’s Evelyn Fletcher explained. “I said, ‘Really, God? It’s cold out there.’” Despite the cold, Fletcher knew what she had to do. Her mission: To deliver hot meals to hungry, stranded travelers.
Cooking for the masses is something Fletcher has been doing for years.
“I go out in icy weather when nobody else will go out to feed the homeless. I’ve been doing this for about four years,” she said.
Fletcher, who owns and operates a bakery, Uniquely Sweet Treats in Clinton, from her home used to do catering, and she loves to bake and cook. A recently retired Army Chief Warrant Officer II, Fletcher moved to Mississippi as a logistics manager for the U.S. Army.
“It’s all I know to do,” Fletcher said. It turns out her skill set was precisely what was needed to feed masses of travelers stranded in Clinton by icy, impassible roads.
“I bake. I love gadgets. I cooked and barbecued for my soldiers as a reward for great work,” Fletcher said. She had the cookware, knowledge and lots of food on hand, so she hit the kitchen early Monday (February 15) morning, posting a plea on her Facebook page at 2:37 p.m. that afternoon:
“I need y’all HELP! I have more than enough food in my house to make soups/a meal/water for the truckers. I just need someone with a truck or a 4-wheeler to help me get to them. If anyone has transportation that will get the food from Cynthia Drive to the interstate, the truckers will at least get something warm in their body this evening. I can imagine there are a few drivers who thought they were on turnaround trips.
Please call or text me immediately … if you think you can help me. In about 3 hours, I can whip up a full meal-meat, a side, vegetable, bread, a pot of soup. I have everything to include – to-go plates, utensils and cups for soup.”
Many, many people came out to deliver food, said Fletcher. However, in order to stay safe and only have a minimum of people on the hazardous roadways, she chose drivers who had vehicles equipped to handle the icy conditions.
“One young man, Rich Lambert, a disabled veteran and former MP, had a 4×4 truck,” she said.
Fletcher put him to work delivering meals, and also recruited Tracy and Derrick Spivey. Tracy is a photographer, and Derrick is a Captain in the Coast Guard who served twenty-two years in Greenville. “They have a 350-truck and used to live in the Midwest,” said Fletcher.
“I was trying to keep it limited, so there was less danger on the road,” Fletcher explained. She had four drivers and herself, all who were experienced at driving in poor road conditions from having lived in the Midwest and North.
“Monday morning for lunch/afternoon, we were able to set out about 65 plates by 2:30,” Fletcher said.
At 9:37 that evening, Fletcher posted on Facebook:
“Thank you to everyone! Thank you to CPD. Thank you to the drivers. Thank you to the people who donated. Thank you to everyone for the kind words. Thank you. There was sooooo many calls and messages that I wasn’t able to get to them all.
God gets the glory for the work. I am a mere vessel who executed His instructions. I love to cook, so putting together a meal is easy to do. I received messages from truck drivers who said thank you for the hot meals.
If the Lord sees fit, we will do it again tomorrow. I have drivers already for tomorrow. Thank you.
God will unite us- one little town/city at a time. Love y’all!”
Later that evening, Fletcher got a Facebook message from a hotel resident, letting her know that truckers and families were coming in to the hotel and there were no restaurants open.
“I had meat on the grill meant for Tuesday,” she said. At midnight, Fletcher went to the Comfort Inn and the Hilton in Clinton and passed out plates to families stranded at the hotels.
When Fletcher returned from the midnight food delivery, she posted at 1:38 a.m. on Facebook:
“Living and driving in Kansas, Washington, Germany (snow up to your hips) and Korea trained me for this day in Mississippi. I delivered more plates at midnight and have returned home. Praise God for Ford Explorers with 4 wheels drive. A Ford girl I am.”
On Tuesday (February 16), Fletcher said she had dozens of messages.
“I had a message from T-Beaux’s (Crawfish and Catering in Clinton) Lee-Ann Ray, who said: ‘I have gumbo and stuff that will go bad. Can you get me drivers to come over here?’”
Fletcher mobilized her drivers, and seventy-five lunches were served: forty-five shrimp plates with sausage, potatoes and corn, and thirty servings of gumbo.
On Tuesday night, Fletcher had two hams and a turkey. “Who has two hams in the house?” she quipped, laughing. She cooked turkey, smoked chicken and ham, serving twenty-eight meals to the hotels.
“I’m glad I did, because there was an elderly couple that just got off the road and needed something to eat.” Waffle House was only serving a limited meal, so people didn’t have much of anything to eat, she said.
On Wednesday, T-Beaux’s had more shrimp. Fletcher and her delivery crew picked up forty-five plates at T-Beaux’s and delivered to the hotels.
“There was an Entergy driver parked at Home Depot. He helped deliver.” Although the Entergy drivers usually carry coolers with cold cuts and drinks while out on call, Fletcher delivered hot meals to the drivers, as well.
“This (Thursday) evening, we’ll serve sixty people tonight.” Thursday night’s menu included “turkey pot pie, buttered noodles and vegetables, almost like turkey a la king,” Fletcher said. T-Beaux’s provided forty gumbo meals for lunches.
As of 4:17 p.m. on Friday, February 19, Fletcher was on meal number nine for those in need.
“As I bring the operation to a shift (not ending but changing directions – elderly and disabled without families), I would like to thank everyone for your participation, your donations (which helped to buy more food), your kind words, your texts, your DMs, your prayers. Thank you! All of this happened because GOD made it possible. He kept us safe and warm while doing HIS mission. Love you all.”
Since Fletcher started cooking and serving meals to stranded travelers on Monday, February 15, her story has spread evoked thousands of responses of encouragement, praise, thanks and donations far beyond Clinton.