Celebrity Chef José Andrés has made it his mission to feed those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, transforming eight of his acclaimed restaurants in New York City and Washington, D.C. into gourmet soup kitchens.
“We saw this as an emergency,” Andrés said. “Why [would] an NGO [Non-Government Organization] like World Central Kitchen be in the middle of COVID-19? Because this has been an emergency. We saw elderly homes that nobody was feeding them. All of a sudden, shelters were shutting down. Hospitals needed somebody to be fed.”
Andrés’ solution not only feeds the millions of Americans who have been forced to rely on food banks and community kitchens for the first time as a result of the pandemic, but offers solace to the restaurant industry crippled by lockdowns and dining regulations.
“We activated restaurants, we put them back to work, we were able to channel all of the philanthropy dollars coming our way to achieve two things,” he said. “Number one, feed the people in need, feed the hungry, first responders in the process of putting the restaurants at work. Every dollar that came our way, we channeled it through — we put the restaurants to work in the process.
With the holidays fast approaching, Andrés believes “we can do better making sure that nobody is hungry and in the process, we can be smart about it.
“You can make sure that we put America to work in the process of making sure no American is left behind. This is really something that you see in blue states and red states,” he said.
Andrés called on Congress to step up and confront the fact that the country as a whole is “going to go through a Christmas where many Americans are going to be hungry.”
“What we are seeing right now is a very big problem,” he said. “And we expect more from leadership … And we all know that America can do better, that we must do better. Empathy should win the day. No American should go hungry anymore through 2021 and beyond.”
Andrés added: “I do believe that Congress should be next to the restaurants all across America. The states and the mayors are shutting us down for the safety of everybody. We should be next to the people, next to the restaurant owners, especially the small businesses of America.
“We could do better,” he emphasized. “Let’s hope this new year we can all do better, be together again, breaking bread together and showing and investing into true solutions where restaurants are, in essence, part of the solution of feeding people.”