Chef Jose Andres and His Co-workers

I rarely focus on individuals doing something good because I don’t want to foster the cult of personality, but there are times when focusing on an individual is a testament to the power of the human spirit and it needs to be noted.  I had become aware of World Central Kitchen when they began in 2010 cooking meals in Haiti after the earthquake, and then in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. And one night as I was listening to BBC World Service I learned they were in Ukraine and Kyiv cooking for those who couldn’t cook for themselves, providing several thousand meals a day. The logistics to bring in what they needed were becoming very complex including the fact that not only local suppliers were not always available but also they now often had to pay cash instead of using credit cards. I went to the website and was surprised that instead of the normal hype and pabulum one tends to encounter, there seemed to be a kind of more direct and concise  statements. it says, for example ” food relief is not just a meal that keeps hunger away. It is a plate of hope. It tells you in your darkest hour that someone, somewhere cares about you.” World Central Kitchens goes in disaster areas, in war zones and other emergency food relief  such as those arising from climate  change disasters.  Like Doctors Without Borders they link humans to each other at times when despair is near and need is felt so keenly.  They are now also working in an area that can easily be forgotten, the famine in Madagascar. And as they learned in Haiti, they prepare food that is locally considered something like comfort food.  Jose Andres is the public face, and one that can attract needed donations, he’s been widely interviewed, and recently been named to replace Amos Oz on a White House task force.  But the people and volunteers who work with him cannot be forgotten. They too remind us of what human beings can accomplish and stand for.

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