Apr 29, 2019
When we hear about a natural disaster our first thoughts go to saving people and then to saving homes, roads and infrastructure. We expect a rapid response by government and relief agencies and, hopefully, we volunteer to help. Chef José Andrés launched World Central Kitchen in the wake of Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake. He found his way to the island, listened to people struggling to survive and used his unique skills as a chef and entrepreneur to feed and mobilize the community. Since then, World Central Kitchen has used food, our most shared cultural touchstone to uplift communities after floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and tornados in North Carolina, Florida, Puerto Rico, Haiti and Mozambique. WCK listens before acting. And the goodwill this approach generates is incalculable. WCK galvanizes chefs, students, professionals and everyday people to produce thousands of meals in logistically impossible situations. And Chef Andrés is a moral voice on behalf of immigrants and refugees battered by poverty, political turmoil and a hostile White House. As WCK executive director Nate Mook explains after his recent return from Mozambique with José, “the first step we take is to connect to local networks.” Nate talks about balancing WCK’s disaster relief with the longer-term vision of building social enterprises that sustain communities. In Haiti, WCK helps families to shift from using charcoal and wood to LPG gas cookstoves. WCK is both a collaborator and a disruptor in the government and nonprofit sector. Stay tuned for a Part 2 of their inspiring story at a later date.