When Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique on March 14, it left so much devastation in its wake that it’s being called one of the worst weather-related disasters to ever hit southern Africa. In total, nearly two million people have been affected by the storm. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and more than one million acres of crops were destroyed. Communities were completely cut off due to flooding.
Just five days after Idai made landfall, World Central Kitchen’s (WCK) Chef Relief Team arrived in Beira, Mozambique to assess the situation. WCK is a non-profit of chefs creating smart solutions to hunger in the areas of disaster relief, health, jobs and workforce development, and food security. Since Fall 2017, we’ve served 8 million chef-driven meals through 23 activations with more than 44,000 volunteers to people in the aftermath of these situations. WCK responded to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, wildfires in California, the El Fuego volcano eruption in Guatemala, the Federal government shutdown across the United States, and more.
“This is massive. We cannot forget the people of Mozambique” – Chef José Andrés.
Shortly after arriving in Beira, we activated a local kitchen and #ChefsForMozambique began. After just over a month, WCK’s Relief Team has served more than 260,000 meals to survivors in part with a generous donation of $250,000 from The Rockefeller Foundation. With this donation, we’ve been able to provide more than 10,000 meals each day. We have operated out of two kitchens and were able to set up hand washing stations to prevent the spread of cholera in the camps housing those who have been displaced. The Foundation has long been committed to fighting food insecurity in the region in line with its mission to promote the well-being of humanity. WCK is thankful to have this support in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai.
WCK’s #ChefsForMozambique team has delivered hot meals to camps housing displaced families, in hospitals and clinics, and in schools across Beira. None of this would be possible without the support of local volunteers. The Chef Relief Team has had the help of up to 140 volunteers a day showing up in the early morning hours for their neighbors. By working with the local community, we are able to learn what the needs are, directly from those impacted. We always work to serve meals that are familiar and comforting to those in crisis, and we always purchase as many local ingredients as we can. Buying food locally helps to keep dollars in the impacted economy, which will in turn help speed up the recovery process. Buying local, employing local, and utilizing local expertise are all core to our relief efforts.
In the kitchen, Chef José Andrés, WCK’s Founder, explains, “A lot of chicken, a lot of vegetables, a lot of cabbage today, with peppers, tomatoes, carrots… we always try to employ local, buy local when we can,” said Chef José Andrés. “This is massive. We cannot forget the people of Mozambique.”
Wherever there is a fight so that hungry people may eat, we will be there.