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José Andrés Announces National Response to Food ‘Emergency’ Caused By Shutdown [Updated]

World Central Kitchen is asking for volunteers all across the country

The emergency kitchen in D.C. opened last week.
World Central Kitchen/Facebook

Update, January 25: As the shutdown temporarily ends, Andrés says that his #ChefsforFeds initiative will continue for the next week. He tweeted: “Our government will reopen...but we will be keep cooking hot meals for the next week so that everyone has time to get paid!”

Chef and restaurateur José Andrés announced this weekend that his nonprofit’s #ChefsForFeds initiative is expanding from the emergency kitchen that began feeding furloughed federal employees in downtown D.C. last week to a nationwide initiative meant to support more of the 800,000 people going without a paycheck during the partial government shutdown.

In a video he posted to Twitter on Tuesday night, Andrés stood in front of a map of the United States that had locations flagged with pins and said World Central Kitchen was prepared to open 30 more kitchens across 12 states plus Puerto Rico and D.C. in the ensuing 48 hours.

Andrés first announced #ChefsForFeds would go national in a Twitter video he posted last Saturday.

“We believe this is a national food emergency,” he said then.

According to a Washington Post analysis, nearly a quarter of affected workers are based in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia. There are affected federal employees in all 50 states, with large swaths in Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Idaho.

Andrés retweeted a post from the owner of the Excaliburger food truck in Little Rock, Arkansas, saying he was joining the effort.

Andrés nonprofit, World Central Kitchen, put a volunteer form on its website looking for restaurants, food trucks, nonprofits, and businesses interested in serving federal workers in their communities.

The first #ChefsForFeds kitchen opened at the ThinkFoodLab at 701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW last Wednesday. World Central Kitchen announced it had served 4,400 meals in the first day. The Hill reported that 5,500 meals were served on Thursday, followed by 6,488 on Friday.

World Central Kitchen announced Monday that, starting today, it is also supplying a resource center for furloughed federal employees, working with several corporate partners to provide items such as groceries, diapers, and pet food.

In his video this weekend, Andrés references another group that could soon need assistance: people relying on food stamps to feed their families.

The United States Department of Agriculture announced this month that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will be fully funded for February. But, according to an AP report, the USDA won’t be able to cover the full cost of the program, which serves about 40 million Americans, if the shutdown extends into March. The USDA says there has never been a lapse in food stamp benefits since the permanent program was started in 1964.

Wednesday marked the record-extending 33rd day of the partial government shutdown spurred on by President Donald Trump’s demand for more than $5 billion in funding to build a southern border wall.

Andrés ends his Saturday video with a direct appeal to the White House: “This is our action to make sure no one will go hungry. President Trump, what are you doing about it?”