The Archdiocese of Miami is sending a plane filled with supplies from Miami to Cuba Monday to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.
The first plane, which is carrying 9,000 pounds of food supplies to Santiago, left Miami International Airport Monday morning. The supplies include powdered cans of Parmalat milk, rice, beans and Vienna sausage.
"It represents our first efforts of solidarity with the church in Cuba," Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski said at a news conference Monday.
When the plane lands, it will be greeted by members of Caritas Cuba and the Daughters of Charity in Cuba who will oversee the transportation and distribution of the food to the needy areas.
"The food is destined to Caritas in Santiago and will be received by the director of Caritas and the Archbishop of Santiago," Wenski said.
Sandy hit southeastern Cuba on Oct. 25 as a Category 2 hurricane. It killed 11 people, damaged more than 200,000 homes and caused major losses to coffee and other crops.
Wenski said he hopes more planes and possibly a ship filled with supplies will also be sent.
"I think that since it is being handled through the church, an independent actor inside the island, and through a non-govenmental agency, minimizes the chance the product beng sold in tourist stores as has happened in the past," said John Suarez, executive director of the group Directorio Democratico Cubano, which is made of Cuban-Americans interested in the issues of Cuba.