As wildfires burn in Northern California, World Central Kitchen is there, providing emergency food relief. Likewise in Spain, it has responded to devastating wildfires that flared in July. You’ll find WCK in Ukraine, feeding countless souls affected by Russia’s brutal invasion.
Whether it’s in response to natural disasters or manmade catastrophes, World Central Kitchen springs into action to meet urgent human needs.
The extraordinary nonprofit created by chef José Andrés is the subject of We Feed People, the National Geographic documentary directed by Ron Howard that is nominated for two Emmys, including Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special.
“It’s really been fascinating to follow the story of World Central Kitchen because it turns out that we caught them at a moment of incredible growth,” Howard explained as he appeared along with Andrés at Deadline’s Contenders Television: The Nominees awards-season event. “They were beginning to have a real voice, which was interesting to capture. But it made me curious and want to go back and understand how they had grown into this kind of an organization, which is all about the spirit of volunteerism.”
Andrés founded WCK after joining relief efforts in Haiti following the catastrophic 2010 earthquake.
“Haiti is the place that I realized was my moment to don’t sit in the comfort of my home, and [instead] go to start learning how I could be an agent of change,” the renowned chef and restaurateur noted. “Haiti … was the moment that we realized that cooks like me that feed the few, if we came together, we could feed the many not only Haiti, but in America and anywhere around the world.”
Before World Central Kitchen, few NGOs thought about how to make and distribute quality food to people in crisis. WCK has proven exceptionally resourceful setting up kitchens in disaster zones, enlisting local people in the relief effort and establishing a sustainable system that can endure when and if WCK leaders need to respond to another disaster.
“This is one of the things I love about the organization is not only has it learned how to go and make an impact, but it is also learned how to go and create these opportunities for people who’ve been recently stricken, are shattered, have experienced loss and yet need a way to begin healing,” Howard said. “This process of engagement, you begin to recognize, is very healing.”
The need for World Central Kitchen continues to grow as climate change triggers natural disasters on a bigger and bigger scale.
“I think what Ron has done is help all of us, not only World Central Kitchen, send a message that the world and the rich countries of the world and everybody else is ill prepared right now to handle the issues we are facing where food is at the heart. And the message is simple: Let’s make sure that food is the solution instead of food being the problem,” Andrés said. “If we don’t respond right now to the challenges that we are facing, we are failing especially the voiceless of the world, especially the poor of the world, especially the people that have no ways to communicate to us their suffering.”
Check out the panel video above.