By: Leslie Sarasin, President and CEO, Food Marketing Institute

Natural Disasters.

No one wants them, but they’re an inevitable part of life on a planet subject to the whims of weather and ruled by the basic elements of earth, wind, fire and water.

We yearn to avoid them, but when they occur they have the means of stripping life of the non-essentials, revealing our most basic needs. Whether at the mercy of a wild fire raging out of control, mudslides cascading over everything in their path, or the wind and water wrath of a hurricane, natural disasters reveal the primal power of nature, reminding us of how fragile life can be.

In those horrible moments before, during and after a natural disaster, all semblance of normal gets obscured and we see our lives and especially our needs in the clearest of terms. The fundamental human requirements of shelter, food, and water shine with an unprecedented brilliance. And those who lead us to them are heroes; those who provide them are angels.

Supermarkets always serve as the cornerstones of their communities, but that role is never seen with more clarity than when the community is in peril, a state of emergency. When the neighborhood stands in the direst of need, the grocery store -rising above the circumstances and difficulties, finding the means to meet the human need for sustenance and hope -is frequently the beacon pointing the way out of despair.

Too many of you know firsthand the clarion call to work around the obstacles presented and find a way to serve your customers, when they need you most. We salute your resilience. We applaud your courage. We celebrate your commitment to your communities.

Here’s a video tribute to you… to your noble work of feeding families and enriching lives … especially in their hour of deepest need.