As food lines increase across the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic, the chef responsible for feeding countless people in field kitchens in response to disasters around the world warns that the “worst is yet to come.”
Celebrity chef José Andrés founded the nonprofit World Central Ktichen 10 years ago to serve people whose communities had been devastated by such natural disasters as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. Now the organization is mobilizing to respond to the spread in the U.S. of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, with food for shut-ins, meals for health-care workers and stranded cruise ship passengers. The group is preparing “grab-and-go” boxed meals in several cities, and setting up food centers in some abandoned restaurants.
The help comes as hunger grows with the exploding ranks of unemployed in the pandemic. Evoking images from the Great Depression, long lines of people in cars and on foot have been filmed at food distribution centers seeking in Pittsburgh, Chicago, New York City, Dallas, Fayetteville in Arkansas, and in the shadow of President Donald Trump’s now closed “winter White House” at Mar-a-Lago in Florida.
America, 2020 pic.twitter.com/i6S28NWxaU
— NBC News NOW (@NBCNewsNow) April 2, 2020
Andres is all about food in a crisis. Starvation is already burgeoning, largely out of sight, he wrote last month in a New York Times op-ed.
He said he believes one path to a better society is federal money to pay the unemployed to feed the unemployed, based on the public works projects of the Great Depression. “If our leaders step up now with federal aid, food can be the solution — supporting millions of jobs while also feeding millions of people in desperate need,” he urged.
People of America! UPDATE from our DC headquarters…@WCKitchen is now operating in 22 cities and growing each day! Monday we move to @Nationals park to be ready…Worst is yet to come & together we can make sure elderly…children..everyone! has a plate of food #ChefsForAmerica pic.twitter.com/S19jwIdBzr
— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) April 4, 2020
The nation faces hard times, he warned in a video posted Saturday on Twitter. But he assured that “together we can make sure elderly … children … everyone has a plate of food.”
“Why are we here?” he asked. “The least we can be doing is protecting our elderly.” Children also “need to be protected,” as well as “people in need,” he added.
Andres said he aims to “try to learn from this, and make sure we will look at the future with hope.”