Ortley Beach Destruction Fuels Storm Recovery With 200 Pies, Gallons of Soup
Madison restaurant brought contingent to Toms River to nourish volunteers and affected homeowners.
Gino Iossa got the idea to support Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts while he was searching online for photos of his family's home in Ortley Beach in Toms River. The home was destroyed.
As he was searching, he came across a picture of kids looking disheveled and realized they had no food.
Iossa, executive chef of Rocco's Tuscany Bar and Grill in Madison, reached out to Lavallette Police saying he wanted to help. That started a chain of connections that eventually led him to the Church of Grace and Peace in Toms River.
The church, which serves as a headquarters for relief efforts in the area, welcomed Iossa's offer of food and scheduled time for Rocco's to serve on Monday.
By Monday afternoon, Rocco's served 200 pies, more than 35 trays of pasta and 40 gallons of pasta fagioli soup, Iossa said.
"People were just flocking in," Iossa said. "They were just so thoughtful and grateful. The church was beyond grateful and thankful."
The church has partnered with Samaritan's Purse, an organization that is cleaning mud out of homes and clearing trees for free. It turns to donations from the community to keep the operation running and people well fed.
Iossa, his father Rocco Iossa, and volunteers pulled up to the Church of Grace and Peace in a 40-foot trailer and made pizzas on site. The trailer, usually reserved for the Rotary Family Festival and other big events, has four ovens. Iossa said customers, a restaurant employee, a family member and a friend were among those who helped prepare and serve the food.
When Gino Iossa originally told his father about the idea, the elder Iossa said to make it happen.
"He said, 'Put it together and we'll do it,'" Iossa said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Gino Iossa checked on the family shore home in person.