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Hammond BBQ Challenge donates food to local heroes after big event canceled

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HAMMOND - The coronavirus forced the cancellation of the 'Hammond BBQ Challenge,' but the pandemic could not put the fire out on the grills.

What was going to be a big barbeque cook-off turned into a 'thank you' for hundreds of healthcare workers. 

Hammond BBQ Challenge teamed up with Piggly Wiggly supermarkets to give back to their local heroes.

"This year would have been our 17th. year, but because of the virus, we had to cancel," BBQ Challenge organizer Eric Phares said.

The event was called off in March but that did not stop organizers from handing out over 1,500 plates of pulled pork with beans and coleslaw on the side to officers at the Hammond Police Department Monday afternoon.

"The officers are having a hard time. They are eating out of the back of their cars. It's a difficult and challenging time," Hammond Police Chief Edwin Bergeron said.

The BBQ Challenge volunteers also provided dozens of meals for the firefighters and paramedics in the Hammond area, and more than a thousand lunches to North Oaks Medical Center, where hospital workers have been treating COVID-19 patients since the outbreak.

"Just having support from organizations like Hammond BBQ Challenge and Piggly Wiggly is what helps to keep us going and fuel our fire to continue to care for the community," Melanie Zaffuto with North Oaks said.

With food prepared by competitive barbeque chefs and award-winning pitmasters, you can bet there were no leftovers after the dozens of trays were delivered.

"If there is, it will be going to my house, so probably not," Chief Bergeron said.

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