Feeding the Red Cross crews taking part in Exercise Viking Thunder was all in a day's work for the Salvation Army's Major David Bennett.

Major Bennett is the Army's co-ordinator of emergency services and last year spent 11 weeks in Nepal, before being assigned to Fiji after Cyclone Winston hit the islands.

"I've been in this role for seven years and I also spent four months in Christchurch post the February 2011 earthquake. I'm always monitoring things, waiting for the call and being part of this weekend's exercise is all part of making people aware of what the Sallies can do," he said.

And while he's at the centre of emergency response for the Salvation Army, Major Bennett said the most important person is cook Steven Robinson, also from Wellington.

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Lynda Ellington (left), the Dannevirke Salvation Army mission director, with Alan Murray from Wellington and Barry Ellington prepare food for Saturday's lunch during Exercise Viking Thunder.
Lynda Ellington (left), the Dannevirke Salvation Army mission director, with Alan Murray from Wellington and Barry Ellington prepare food for Saturday's lunch during Exercise Viking Thunder.

"Food is what people want in an emergency," he said.

Last weekend the Salvation Army team dished up everything from bacon and egg rolls to butter chicken and rice and devilled sausages.

Helping during disasters has its own rewards, too.

"The appreciation of the people makes everything worthwhile, even when I'm working with different cultures," Major Bennett said.

David Russell, the Viking Thunder controller, said the weekend exercise was a good opportunity for the Red Cross to work with the Salvation Army.

"We get to see their capabilities and for our Red Cross teams to have hot food, rather than living on tinned, cold food is great," he said.