Friday, December 9, 2022

José Andrés delivers flour in Ukraine as World Central Kitchen expands operations

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To get flour to the bakery, Andrés needed to hire a automobile in Poland, the place he’s staying, drive it to the border, switch the luggage to a different automobile that he had rented inside Ukraine after which drive it to its vacation spot. “The car companies, they don’t let you bring them into Ukraine for obvious reasons,” he informed The Washington Post in an interview.

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The unhappy fact is that the flour barely made a dent on the bakery’s wants as it tries to feed these fleeing Ukraine or sheltering in place. In a video that Andrés later posted on Twitter, he talked about that Viktor, the man who runs the bakery outdoors Lviv, chuckled concerning the flour the chef had hauled into Ukraine. Those 200 kilograms equated to about 440 kilos.

“He was laughing about me because he was trying to buy 10,000 kilos,” Andrés mentioned in the video. “They are going through a lot of flour.”

The chef’s flour mission is only one small achievement amongst WCK’s bigger efforts to feed Ukrainian refugees and others contained in the more and more war-torn nation. The nonprofit, which discovered its goal on Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, has established outposts at eight border crossings in Poland, the place they’ve already served greater than 37,000 meals to refugees. WCK can also be financially supporting eating places in 5 cities and two border crossings inside Ukraine, in line with information equipped by the nonprofit. What’s extra, the group is establishing meal distribution factors in different nations, together with Hungary, Moldova and Romania.

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Andrés is fast to level out that many others are working to feed Ukrainians, too.

“We are the tip of the iceberg. A lot of things are happening,” he mentioned. “The Polish government is doing their part. Individual organizations. The mayors of local towns.”

“These people are very proud, and proud in a good way, and they are taking this as their responsibility,” the chef added. “We’re not here to take from anybody. We’re here to support everybody and empower them like we do everywhere we go.”

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The WCK mannequin was established in 2017 on Puerto Rico, the place locals had been with out energy, water and contemporary meals for weeks on finish as the federal government struggled to get the island’s infrastructure again on-line. Everywhere that Andrés and WCK go, they associate with meals vehicles, eating places and catering firms to serve contemporary meals in catastrophe areas the place entry to such meals could be in restricted provide. This mannequin helps the group make investments in the native financial system and interact with the group on the identical time.

WCK hasn’t had any provide points but at its Polish websites, although chief government Nate Mook mentioned the nonprofit is nonetheless sending in tools from its headquarters in Spain.

The Spanish postal service loaned an Airbus 330 cargo plane that we are landing tomorrow here in Poland,” Mook informed The Post. “So that’s filled up with a number of our supplies: paella pans, food transport and a number of other supplies that we’re bringing in. . . As we potentially need to set up some of our own kitchens, we’ll have those supplies.”

So far, WCK has been serving a number of soup and stews, Andrés mentioned, even ramen. The refugees have gratefully acquired these sizzling broths, as temperatures have dipped under zero in Ukraine and Poland. “Soups, in these freezing temperatures, are highly needed for everybody, especially for people who have been walking for hours, if not days,” Andrés mentioned.

Early in the morning on Tuesday, Mook was in Ukraine, close to the Polish border crossing at Kroscienko, the place lots of of automobiles had been ready 20 hours or extra to enter the county and discover some kind of security. He and David Greene, the former host of NPR’s “Morning Edition,” had been passing out contemporary fruit, sandwiches and chocolate in temperatures that dipped to minus-11 levels Fahrenheit. Either Mook or Greene would drive a automobile full of provides, whereas the opposite would cross out meals. When the person handing out meals bought too chilly, or his fingers began to go numb, the 2 would change roles.

“I think a lot of folks were nervous,” Mook mentioned. “Everybody doesn’t really know what’s going to happen next. The families that we spoke with, they’ve left everything, and maybe they have an idea where they’re headed, maybe they have friends or family in Poland or in Europe that they can go to. Or maybe not. Maybe they’re just trying to get across the border and figure out their next steps. But nobody really knows when they’ll be able to go back. Nobody really knows if their home will be there when they return.”

In his first days in Poland and Ukraine, Andrés has witnessed a number of heartbreak, too.

“The children, they tell you, ‘My father has to stay behind.’ It’s so sad because you can’t possibly imagine those children know why their fathers have stayed,” the chef mentioned. “It breaks your heart.”

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