World Central Kitchen - Serving millions of meals to disaster-stricken communities
Halfway between first responder and systemic change agent, World Central Kitchen mobilizes local chefs to serve meals to victims of natural and humanitarian disasters and build resilient food systems.
With global warming accelerating, droughts, floods, and other natural hazards multiply. Madagascar is experiencing it firsthand. Four devastating storms have hit the African island this year alone. World Central Kitchen arrived onsite right after cyclone Batsirai to support thousands left homeless, hungry, and thirsty. It set up a field kitchen and hired 50+ locals to prepare thousands of fresh meals every day. It also partnered with other NGOs to help build a clean water system,
The organization remains in the country to help families prepare for the next landfall, as more storms may hit southern Africa in the coming months.
Providing emergency food relief
World Central Kitchen was founded by renowned Spanish-American chef José Andrés in the wake of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. It has since served more than 60 million meals to victims of wildfires in California, tsunamis in Indonesia, cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala, the Beirut explosion, and many more places across the globe.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization started serving a new population segment: healthcare professionals. In India, it partnered with celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor to provide breakfast to hospital staff working around the clock. In the US, Founder José Andrés turned eight of his own restaurants into soup kitchens to feed people affected by the pandemic – from frontliners to isolated elderlies. World Central Kitchen has so far served more than 40 million meals worldwide as part of its COVID-19 pandemic response.
Each time, its teams activate restaurants and connect with local community groups. These connections grow into ongoing collaborations aiming to address chronic food system challenges.
Building resilience after a disaster
World Central Kitchen is a first responder. Not only that, its Resilience Programs also prepare victims for potential new crises. The non-profit created a culinary school in Haiti that proved instrumental in feeding survivors after the 2021 earthquake. Students – 60% of which will enter the job market following their training – delivered meals within 24 hours.
Beyond the culinary school, it has awarded thousands of dollars to small farmers, fishers, and food businesses in the Caribbean and Central America to improve long-term food security in these disaster-prone regions.
Accelerating the adoption of clean cooking practices is another pillar of the organization’s resilience-building work. It renovates school and community kitchens and installs LPG cookstoves in replacement of open-fire stoves, which pollute indoor air and cause 2 million premature deaths every year.
All these initiatives are led by locals, helping rebuild a sense of community. And in light of conflicts sprouting in all corners of the world and natural disasters intensifying, World Central Kitchen continuously welcomes volunteers. Check out how you can get involved near you.