5 Ways José Andrés' Foundation World Central Kitchen Is Helping to Feed People During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear aprons (and now, face masks).

"If we are going to be contagious, we should be contagious with good things," José Andrés said on April 30 at a virtual advocacy summit with the nonprofit Save the Children Action Network.

Since the Spanish-born chef launched his own nonprofit, World Central Kitchen, in 2010 to help Haitians recover from a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, he and his team have been on the front lines of dozens of disasters. In Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria (the subject of his best-selling book, We Fed an Island). In California, during the wildfires. In Washington, D.C., as the government shutdown lingered on. In Colombia, to aid Venezuelan refugees.

Jose Andres
Getty / Jason Mendez / Stringer

As a result of all of these efforts, Andrés won the 2018 Humanitarian of the Year award from the James Beard Foundation, and in 2019, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

And now, across America, he is whipping up one incredible recipe to not only keep millions of people fed, but also advocating for restaurants, farmers and front-line workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

So how is the chef and World Central Kitchen leader (oh yes, and owner of 27 restaurants) making all of this happen?

"What we've been doing is use the systems that are already in place. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. You only have to change the way you think," Andrés told Anderson Cooper during an interview that aired on 60 Minutes on April 19.

Discover five ingredients to the "secret sauce" that makes Andrés' work so impactful—now, quite possibly more than ever.

Andrés is advocating for a government recovery plan that includes the food system.

In the March 22 edition of The New York Times, the chef penned a powerful letter to politicians asking them to unite to bring reform to the entire American food landscape, including requesting an equal amount of money as the airline industry requested for its bailout ($54 billion, which ended up being passed at $25 billion on April 14). This funding would go to farm workers, restaurant owners and staff, low-income families and seniors in need of food, to fund community kitchens and more.

World Central Kitchen is handing out prepared meals in 155 cities across the country.

In just six weeks, World Central Kitchen's Relief Team's ChefsForAmerica response has served more than 3 million meals to vulnerable communities and health care staff. In 155 cities from coast to coast, the nonprofit's crew are now serving nearly 200,000 meals each day.

They're helping to keep hundreds of restaurants open and thousands of people employed.

Many of those meals are coming from 496 local restaurants. World Central Kitchen committed to purchase 1 million meals from these small restaurants during the pandemic—paying $6 to $10 per meal—to keep their doors open, rent paid and staff employed. As a restaurant owner himself, Andrés is well aware of the vital place the restaurant industry holds within our economy. (Restaurants are the nation's second largest private employer, and create 15 million jobs.)

World Central Kitchen is opening free farmers' markets.

Since many farmers are without their usual restaurant orders, World Central Kitchen is creating a distribution system for their supply of fresh produce. Rather than allowing that food to go to waste, they're opening up free farmers' markets in hard-hit areas like New York City to feed families in need.

Andres has vowed that all working doctors and nurses will eat free at his restaurants this year.

On April 2, Andrés tweeted (and has since confirmed in several interviews) that all active nurses and doctors can dine in his establishments, once they reopen, for free for the rest of the year.

As a result, fans and followers quickly chimed in with messages of support, including, "You are a saint. But these frontline medical personnel are our soldiers, our warriors and our saviors. Thank you for offering to take care of them," and one doctor, who wrote, "Thank you @chefjoseandres for the kind offer, but for me that won't be necessary...I for one can't WAIT to visit one of your restaurants, pay my bill, and leave a generous tip as MY thanks for your selfless service to #HealthcareHeroes!"

In times of uncertainty, heroes swoop in from many different places. We're delighted and inspired to say that one of our biggest just happens to come fresh from the kitchen. Want to get involved? Sign up to volunteer or donate to World Central Kitchen here.

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