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When Natural Disasters Strike, Chef José Andrés Works Culinary Miracles for the Hungry

When people are suffering, this top chef has a three-pronged plan of attack: Show up, spread the word and pray.

José (in blue shirt and vest) and fellow chef volunteers in Puerto Rico making sancocho

Chef José Andrés, who led 20,000 volunters to serve millions of meals in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, is now feeding federal workers affected by the government shutdown.

The high-profile chef has organized #ChefsForFeds, which brings together  other well-known chefs, food trucks and restaurants in the country to help feed the hundreds of thousands of federal workers affected by the government shutdown.

The project, which launched in the Washington D.C. area on January 16 under Andrés’ World Central Kitchen organization, is expanding to over a dozen states, including Maryland, New York, Massachusetts and Texas. The organization’s executive director, Nate Mook, told the Boston Globe the goal was to see “how the industry can band together as a community, support each other, and share the load.”

The #ChefsForFeds network has been serving federal workers hearty foods like  rosemary chicken sandwiches and winter vegetable soups. In addition, visitors to the kitchen can find  free groceries, diapers, pet food, coffee and most recently, resources from area gas, phone, and power companies to help workers struggling to pay their bills.

It’s a menu of offerings that’s not new for World Central Kitchen, which was founded in 2010 shortly after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, and already has used “the power of food to empower communities and strengthen economies” in countries like the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Zambia, according to their website

Andrés himself touted the organization’s global reach, and his long-held belief of “solving the issues humanity faces one plate at a time,” in his August 2018 Guideposts story. He also shared how after Hurricane Maria pummeled through communities in Puerto Rico in 2017, leaving thousands without homes and food, the World Central Kitchen embarked on the mission of serving 10,000 meals daily. Andrés said it was the organization’s largest efforts yet.

Although World Central Kitchen is open daily, participating restaurants across the country have selected dates and times when they serve federal workers. The times and information for each is listed in World Central Kitchen’s website.

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There are other organizations also setting food opportunities, including Feeding America, which is collecting donations to feed federal workers through their network of food banks. The United Way is also tapping its partners to help federal workers with food, energy assistance, utilities, rent and health care through a fund, according to its website.

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