I always say it: Our readers have the biggest hearts. And so many of you have been asking how best to help those impacted by Hurricane Ian in Florida and Cuba, and Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico. So what can we do to help those who are still there? Don’t lose hope — look for the helpers. Then be a helper yourself.
Ever since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, through Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico (and the wholly inadequate response to the emergency in 2019), right into the recent war against Ukraine, we’ve been heavily promoting the work of Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Chef José Andrés and his humanitarian organization, World Central Kitchen.
I can’t recommend them enough, if you’re looking for a solid, on-the-ground, high-impact organization to support in the wake of Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Fiona.
All photos © World Central Kitchen
Related: How to talk to kids about tragedy and natural disaster: A helpful list of resources for parents
The WCK puts themselves right in the middle of disaster areas to serve good, hot, chef-prepared meals to those in need. They served more than 300,000 meals in the first 10 days after Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico — as well as the Dominican Republic, the Turks & Caicos Islands, Bermuda, and Nova Scotia, Canada.They still have 120 members on the ground across the regions hardest hit.
Considering Puerto Rico has lost as much of 80% of farmland from the storm (that tragically hit right during harvest season), the impact to food production and the threat of food insecurity cannot be understated. Getting meals into bellies and helping restore food production resources is absolutely essential; World Central Kitchen has increased their capacity, to serve more than 40,000 meals each day across the territory where they’ve been hardest hit.
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As for Hurricane Ian’s impact in Florida, who among us did not follow the hourly destruction of the near-category 5 storm this past week? The intrepid chefs and volunteers from WCK were on the ground as soon as it was safe to hand-out sandwiches, then later collaborating with local restaurants and food trucks to serve hot meals while supporting those businesses impacted as well.
Even in the past hour as I’m writing this, WCK is tweeting about today’s free meal locations in Port Charlotte, Cape Coral and Fort Myers. They’re also on Sanibel Island, Pine Island, Naples…often providing families with their first hot meal since the storm hit, as close to 700,000 homes and businesses are still without power.
While the destruction of land, homes, infrastructure is horrible, the increasing human toll is most disturbing. Which is why providing people with the most basic human need to survive — food — is a huge priority for us.
You can rebuild a road. You can’t replace a person.
A Fortune Bay student, out of school because of flooding in the Bahamas in 2019, joined WCK in Freeport to prepare and serve meals. Via @WCKitchen on Instagram
The complexity of some of these operations means WCK can use all the help they can get. Since we don’t all have professional kitchens to loan out in times of crisis we can certainly give money.
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to World Central Kitchen — if you can afford $500 or $5, it all makes a difference. There are lots of ways to donate: PayPal, Crypto, sending a paper check, donating stock, making a wire transfer from your bank.
Whatever it is, they’ll take it. And they’ll put it to outstanding use, guaranteed.
If you want to look for the helpers, I’d suggest following @WCKitchen on Twitter, @WCKitchen on Instagram, and @chefjoseandres on Twitter for encouraging, up-to-the-minute updates from some really incredible people.