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In the past few years renowned chef José Andrés and his nonprofit have served millions of free meals to needy Americans after such natural disasters as Hurricane Maria and the California wildfires.
Now they are tackling a new kind of crisis by heading to Washington to feed furloughed government workers and their families.
“Today we face another type of disaster in the United States. More than 800,000 federal workers are without a job. Many millions of Americans are gonna go through hard times,” Andrés says in a video he shared on Twitter announcing the new campaign, #ChefsForFeds.
“We believe that no person should have to go through the pain of not knowing what to feed their children.”
Andrés grew up in Spain but found fame as a chef in Washington, where his tapas restaurant Jaleo opened in the early 1990s and spawned a mini-empire of eateries across the city and the country.
Back in December when the shutdown began, he promised free sandwiches at any of his restaurants for all employees of the federal government, and now he’s delivering on his promise.
Although Andrés said Monday that he was in Puerto Rico, his nonprofit World Central Kitchen will be overseeing the new effort.
His team will open a kitchen and café Wednesday on Pennsylvania Avenue between the US Capitol and the White House. It will serve a rotating menu of free hot meals between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily to federal workers with valid ID, along with meals for workers to take home to their families.
“We plan to make thousands of daily meals each day, and we will remain open as long as needed,” said Chloe Mata Crane, a spokeswoman for World Central Kitchen.
But the project involves more than running a kitchen to feed those in need. Andrés also is calling on politicians to end the partial government shutdown, now in its 25th day.
“This has a double meaning. We will have food for you to eat or food for you to take home, but I also hope this will be a call to action to our senators and congressmen and specially President Trump, to make sure that we end this moment in the history of America where families are about to go hungry,” Andrés said.
“We should always come together as ‘we the people,’ as Americans, bipartisan, Republicans and Democrats – all Americans. So World Central Kitchen will be there for all Americans.”
World Central Kitchen has provided millions of hot meals to people struck by disaster across the world, including survivors of Hurricane Florence, first responders in the California wildfires, volcano victims in Guatemala, migrants in Tijuana and millions of Puerto Ricans who were left with nothing after Hurricane Maria.