As food lines increase across America amid the coronavirus pandemic, the chef responsible for feeding countless people in field kitchens through disasters around the world warns that the “worst is yet to come.”
Celebrity chef José Andrés founded the nonprofit World Central Ktichen ten years ago to serve people at hurricane sites, in floods and earthquakes. Now the organization is mobilizing to respond to the U.S. coronavirus crisis with food for shut-ins, meals for health-care workers and stranded cruise ship passengers, preparing “grab-and-go” boxed meals in several cities, and by 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 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.
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 believes one path to a better society is federal money to pay the unemployed to feed the unemployed, based on the publics works projects of the 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.
We’re facing 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. If anyone says anything else, tell them to call me.” Children also “need to be protected ” as well as “people in need,” he added. Andres aims to “try to learn from this, and make sure we will look at the future with hope.”