Words by Smiley Team
Photo credit: World Central Kitchen/WCK.org.
Food is central to almost every culture, every home, and every person – and in times of strife, most people have comfort food. It's one of the few things that are always there to appreciate even in times of struggle.
World Central Kitchen took that to heart.
“It all began in 2010 after a huge earthquake devastated Haiti,” said World Central Kitchen Founder, Chef José Andrés. “Cooking alongside displaced Haitians in a camp, I found myself getting schooled in how to cook black beans the way they wanted: mashed and sieved into a creamy sauce.”
“You see, food relief is not just a meal that keeps hunger away. It’s a plate of hope. It tells you in your darkest hour that someone, somewhere, cares about you.”
The goal of the organization is to provide high-quality food on the frontlines of crisis, so that even though people might be struggling they can still enjoy a good, fresh meal.
Since 2010, the organization has served over 100 million meals to people around the world, impacted by things like natural disasters, refugee crises, and other problems across the globe. Once a crisis clears up, WCK also looks to set up sustainable programs to maintain a decent quality of food in the areas they help, including culinary training and food production networks.
“After WCK has led a food relief response and the emergency has subsided, we will make long-term commitments of support in places where we can successfully address chronic food system challenges with our unique blend of talents and resources,” they say.
“Through locally-led approaches, our resilience programs advance human and environmental health, offer access to professional culinary training, create jobs, and improve food security for the people we serve.”
The organization has spanned the world in the work it does, popping up after many of the most prominent events of the last decade.
“We fed an island after Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico. We fed tens of millions struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Chef José. “We put boots on the ground when a blast devastated Beirut, bushfires ripped through Australia, and a volcano transformed a Spanish island.”
This broad perspective has led to them starting a climate disaster fund, where they have pledged over $1 billion in support over the next ten years to aid those affected by climate change.
“Because food is not a luxury reserved for the lucky few," chef José says. "It’s a universal human right to live free from hunger."
DONATE: World Central Kitchen accepts donations if you’re inclined to support their cause.
SUPPORT: Food is a massive part of many cultures. Consider sharing a meal with a neighbor or a recipe online. That community bonding is part of how food became so ingrained in the culture in the first place.