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North county business helping local flood victims cope, one meal at a time

"A free meal is not gonna rebuild their house, replace their stuff, but it's a sense of encouragement to help them get through."

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — The recent rain and flash flooding have devastated the lives of hundreds of people throughout the St Louis area. Many people have lost most of everything they own. 

One business in north St. Louis County is reaching out to those affected in Florissant. Mann Meats is making sure they get to eat.

“We’re just a part of the community,” said Mann Meats owner Bob Mannecke.

He isn’t charging people a dime to eat.

“A free meal is not gonna rebuild their house, replace their stuff. But it’s a sense of encouragement to help them get through it,” he said.

Seeing what the victims are dealing with has been heartbreaking.

“I do shed some tears because you know what they’ve been through.  But I’m glad that we are there to help them,” Holly Mannecke said.

The crew at the restaurant starts early in the morning to get the meals ready.  The kitchen and bar-b-que area gets busy.  Everything is taking place at one from smoking the meats to making the burgers to chopping vegetables.

“It can get pretty chaotic,” Holly told 5 On Your Side.

They offer a variety of things to eat.

“Pulled pork brisket, burgers,” said Bob.

All of it is loaded onto a big converted yellow school that is now equipped with a kitchen and a grill. Once the bus is ready, they roll out through the damaged neighborhoods.

“We’ll drive around, we’ll probably give away a hundred meals or so,” he said.

This is not the first time the Manneckes have given back to a community in need.  A year ago, Bob got an inspiration while watching television.

"I’m laying there watching the news, all the damage, I’m like man that is bad,” he said.

He was looking at the coverage of the destruction left behind in Mayfield, Kentucky by a tornado. Mannecke decided to take his bus the 200 miles and take some food to the town.

“They’re talking about there’s no food. There’s no power. People lost their houses. Everything just leveled, devastated,” Bob said about the damage he saw.

Holly is not surprised by her husband’s willingness to give.

“He will give you his shirt off his back. He’s always jumping in just to help somebody. Mean, we don’t even know 'em. Just, he has a very big heart,” she said.

The Manneckes know first hand what desperation feels like. 

“2019 I’m looking at my financial stuff and realize that I’m in financial trouble. I was at rock bottom,” Bob explained.

They have rebounded in the three years since that struggle and are using their good fortunes to assist their neighbors.

“All it takes is my time,” he said.

The Manneckes hope their showing of generosity becomes contagious and gets more businesses to come out and give.

“Everybody’s got each other’s back in a sense. Hope it inspires other people to do the same thing if they can,” said Bob.

If you want help Mann Meats make a difference in the north County community, check out their website here. 

To watch 5 On Your Side broadcasts or reports 24/7, 5 On Your Side is always streaming on 5+. Download for free on Roku or Amazon Fire TV.

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