Celebrity chef José Andrés, who founded the nonprofit World Central Kitchen, which provides meals in the wake of natural disasters, has once again heeded the call to action. Andrés, who served 3,000,000 meals in Puerto Rico after the island was struck by Hurricane Maria, recently supplied food for furloughed government workers affected by the government shutdown. The project was founded in 2010 to provide food in Haiti in the aftermath of its devastating earthquake.
A week ago, on January 23 — the 33rd day of the shutdown — World Central Kitchen provided 11,400 meals to furloughed workers at a pop-up kitchen in Washington, DC. Since then, the #ChefsForFeds program has been expanded nationwide with restaurants across the country signing on to provide free meals to government employees, including Ludo Lefebvre’s Trois Familia in Los Angeles, Stephanie Izard’s Little Goat Diner in Chicago, and all Sweetgreen locations. The initiative has been implemented at 133 locations in 20 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC.
World Central Kitchen has also received support from the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, which has provided a location for furloughed federal workers to enjoy hot meals. Uber also joined the cause, providing free rides to and from World Central Kitchen resource centers, which offer additional household supplies, as well as food.
The shutdown, which was the longest in US history, left more than 800,000 government employees without paychecks. In a Twitter video, Andrés referred to it as a “national food emergency,” and pledged to provide food for the duration of the shutdown “to make sure nobody goes hungry.”
For his work with World Central Kitchen, José Andrés won the 2018 James Beard Foundation Award for Humanitarian of the Year and was named one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time in 2018.
The organization has operated in Houston, Texas, where it worked with the American Red Cross after Hurricane Harvey hit in August 2017, as well as in Southern California in Ventura County during the December 2017 Thomas Fire to provide food for firefighters and first responders, as well as families affected by the fires. Last year, kitchens were set up in Hawaii to help communities impacted by the volcanic eruption, and in South Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.
In addition, World Central Kitchen and Andrés joined chefs Guy Fieri and Tyler Florence, and local Sierra Nevada Brewing Company to serve Thanksgiving dinner to 15,000 Camp Fire survivors in Butte County, California.