A few cookers, plenty of propane and boxes of meat; some of what it takes for Operation Barbecue Relief to get cooking.

The disaster response group is providing meals to displaced residents affected by Freeport’s flooding.

“They’re starting to return to their homes and they don’t really have a way of getting a hot meal,” said Operation BBQ Relief site lead Laurie Polak. “We’re here to provide that hot meal that matters.”

When the BBQ team heard about the flooding from Stephenson County’s emergency coordinator — they packed up to come help.

“He was able to give us very good information that there was a need,” said Polak. “We took it back to our OBR leadership, and we asked can we go and they said do it.”

Operation BBQ Relief is made up of competing BBQ cooks — all volunteers. Together, they set up an array of smokers and grills.

“I’m just really thankful that they’re here,” said Freeport Salvation Army Captain Jim Brickson. “Again, it’s taking a whole lot of work off my plate to have them cooking all the meals and all we have to do is serve them.”

Polak says each meal will have a protein, side and bread.

“They’re actually going to take that to distribution centers to feed people,” said Polak. “There’s going to be a lunch pick-up and a dinner pick-up.”

The effort is run completely on donations, Freeport is the 55th disaster for the group.

“You see and you hear the appreciation,” said Polak. “It doesn’t get any better than somebody who truly appreciates that you’re doing something for them.”

Brickson says it’s not just about the food.

“That ministry of presence is so important,” said Brickson. “Just the initials BBQ mean a whole lot to making people feel a whole lot better.”

The site plans to cook meals until Wednesday, to donate, click here.