“Take this first part from the man himself”- Jose Andres
“Almost ten years ago, my wife Patricia and I had a big dream to start World Central Kitchen. We envisioned an organization that would create smart solutions to hunger and poverty, and for many years we saw an amazing impact through our clean cookstoves initiative, culinary training programs, and social enterprise ventures that empower communities and strengthen economies. But we had no idea we would one day be answering the call in Puerto Rico and around the world – “Food First Responders” serving millions of meals each year. In the process, we learned that a small NGO can change the world through the power of food.” – José Andrés, Founder, World Central Kitchen
Last year, WCK activated in response to 13 disasters — some of the natural, and some man-made. From serving children in the shelters on our border with Mexico to making deliveries by lamplight to those keeping watch over beaches in Indonesia, WCK’s fight to feed the hungry has taken them to more places than they ever expected.
At the same time, WCK continues planting roots in the communities where they work. The Plow to Plate program in Puerto Rico is helping to create food resiliency in the face of future disasters. In Haiti, aspiring chefs are obtaining the skills and confidence they need to elevate their careers and the country’s tourism sector.
With your help, they have shown that there is no place too far or disaster too great for WCK chefs to be there with a hot plate of food when it’s needed most. Envision a world where there is always a warm meal, an encouraging word, and a helping hand in hard times. That is the journey that World Central Kitchen takes. In fulfilling the inspiring words of John Steinbeck: “Wherever there’s a fight so hungry people may eat, we will be there.”
We must be there.
The chef’s organization World Central Kitchen, which provides locally cooked meals to survivors in disaster zones, is scaling up to provide even more meals across the globe.
Andrés braved the storm in the Bahamas as the founder of (and self-described “highly active volunteer” with) World Central Kitchen (www.wck.org), an organization that brings meals to people hit by both natural and manmade disasters, such as hurricanes and U.S./Mexico border crisis, and also serves as an educational and job training nonprofit. The organization’s staff has traveled from Indonesia to Mozambique to Guatemala to Houston to provide simple free meals and water for inhabitants dealing with total chaos. WCK responded to 19 different disasters so far this year and has served more than 10 million meals since its inception.
Andrés got his idea for World Central Kitchen from a perhaps unlikely inspiration—Clara Barton, who helped injured soldiers, regardless of their affiliation, during the U.S. Civil War and founded the American Red Cross. “She created this amazing network and system to provide relief to wounded soldiers,” says Andrés. He wanted to offer aid in a similar fashion, but in the way, he knew best—through cooking.
Donations to World Central Kitchen can be made online, and the group plans to continue posting needs and calls for support throughout their relief efforts.
As chef and restaurateur, Andrés owns several dining establishments across the U.S., like Somni in Los Angeles, and specializes in Spanish cuisine. Cooking for the masses in a disaster, he’s learned, doesn’t have to be all canned meats and processed junk. Besides serving “big ham and cheese sandwiches with lots of calories and a piece of fresh fruit,” Andrés says the meals WCK provides in disaster-struck areas tend to depend on the available local ingredients, a sharp contrast from the packaged foods usually brought in by more established disaster relief organizations.
Using local resources is about more than sustainability and convenience. “At the end of the day in these emergencies, [local fare] is what people love the most and what people appreciate the most,” he says.
Even Locals Are Supporting This Movement
Last month, the company behind 4 Rivers Smokehouse and The COOP announced a $75,000 donation to World Central Kitchen to be spent on relief efforts for people in the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
“None of this would have been possible without the support of our amazing guests, who share our commitment to the community and helping those in need,” said John Rivers, founder, and CEO of 4R RestaurantGroup.
The “Shine A Light” fund will basically add a 1 percent donation checks at 4 Rivers Smokehouses and the COOP starting on Monday, Dec. 2. The funds will be directed to “helping feed people in need due to economic hardship or natural disasters.”
The money collected will to organizations such as World Central Kitchen, Second Harvest Food Bank, and 4Roots Farm Campus, whose mission is to build a healthier and more sustainable food system in Central Florida. Guests can choose to opt-out of participation if they so desire, but 4 Rivers and The COOP are matching 100 percent of the 1 percent donations.
Gifts of Love and Support
So, this holiday season – get involved the right way and give to an organization that is doing the job right with the ideas of sustainability while solving hunger in mind.