Florida Panthers

This is how you do hurricane relief in South Florida: food trucks dish it out free

Food trucks line up at BB&T Center on Wednesday afternoon as JetBlue and the Florida Panthers gave out over 10,000 meals. The trucks are back at the hockey arena on Thursday.
Food trucks line up at BB&T Center on Wednesday afternoon as JetBlue and the Florida Panthers gave out over 10,000 meals. The trucks are back at the hockey arena on Thursday. @flapanthers

Food trucks stretched around the front entrance of BB&T Center on Wednesday, hundreds lining up to grab a hot meal which, for some, was the first one they had enjoyed since Hurricane Irma began approaching South Florida this past weekend.

The free event was so popular, it returns Thursday.

JetBlue Airways announced it would bring 20 food trucks back to the Florida Panthers’ hockey arena in Sunrise with the same deal: Free food for anyone who shows up.

The event begins again Thursday morning at 11 a.m. with the lunch running until 1 p.m.

Dinner will go from 5 until 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Matt Caldwell, the CEO and president of the Panthers, says over 10,000 meals were served on Wednesday and the team and their airline partner are excited about getting the chance to help out once more on Thursday.

“This all came together last minute but it really came out great,” said Caldwell, whose team has pledged $1 million to hurricane relief through a $2.7 million package raised between the Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL and the NHLPA.

“Things went so well during the lunch session, JetBlue came up to me and said ‘what do you think about doing it again?’ I said lets go. We have Sunrise police, the mayor, the fire department all involved. We’re ready to do it again. It was so nice to see people come out. When you talk to folks, you find out how much some are really struggling. It feels great to be able to help out in some small way.”

A good number of Florida front office personnel were out in the parking lot helping out on Wednesday with defenseman Mike Matheson doing some heavy lifting by jumping into a truck and serving food himself. Matheson was joined by forward-turned-executive Shawn Thornton.

“We’re just taking advantage of a relationship we have with JetBlue to provide anything we can to help people affected by Hurricane Irma,” Matheson said.

George Richards: 305-376-4995, @GeorgeRichards

FREE FOOD TRUCKS IN SUNRISE

▪ What: JetBlue is bringing 20 food trucks back to BB&T Center in Sunrise offering free meals to anyone who shows up.

▪ Where: BB&T Center, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.

▪ When: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (lunch); 5-7 p.m. (dinner).

▪ Cost: FREE.

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