Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen: COVID-19 Relief in India

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PLANO, Texas — All across the globe, Chef José Andrés has earned critical acclaim for his culinary abilities. A James Beard winner with multiple Michelin stars under his belt, Andrés is famous for his skills in the kitchen. However, where he takes that kitchen has made a difference in the lives of so many people around the world.

World Central Kitchen

In 2010, Andrés and his wife, Patricia, founded World Central Kitchen (WCK). Their goal was to make a lasting impact in communities worldwide through food. Since then, WCK has worked to establish long-term relief efforts in countries like Haiti, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The organization provided more than three million meals during relief efforts following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Now, Andrés and WCK have partnered with fellow Chefs Manish Gupta and Sanjeev Kapoor to help provide COVID-19 relief to hospital workers in pandemic-stricken India.

The State of COVID-19 in India

India has faced tremendous loss in recent months due to COVID-19. The country has recorded more than 400,000 deaths and more than 30 million infections since the pandemic began. These counts represent some of the most severe rates in all of Asia or the Middle East, according to Reuters. While infection rates have dropped recently, the country has still only administered vaccines to 23.4% of the population.

When WCK activated an “emergency response” to the pandemic in early May of 2021, the country was still reporting 350,000 new cases a day, according to the organization. That immense rate of infection caused severe stress at India’s hospitals where WCK began providing aid.

A Reuters report at the time found that out of the 5,000 ICU beds in the country’s capital, New Delhi, fewer than 20 were ever available at a given time. Rohan Aggarwal, a resident doctor at one of the major New Delhi hospitals, reported having to make heart-wrenching life or death decisions during an exhausting 27-hour shift documented by the news organization. Decisions about which patients received oxygen and pleas with families of sick loved ones to see if they could transfer to a less overcrowded hospital represented just some of the immense challenges Aggarwal faced on that shift. This illustrated the dire state of COVID-19 support in the country.

José Andrés and WCK Mobilize to Support India’s Frontline Workers

During the initial COVID-19 outbreaks in India, Andrés reached out to Sanjeev Kapoor to see if he could help find a way for WCK to provide some kind of support. The result was a meal program that provided a local Mumbai hospital with 250 fresh meals a day.

When the devastating second wave of the pandemic hit India, however, Andrés and Kapoor decided to drastically expand the program’s reach. The program now serves more than 30 hospitals in 10 different cities ranging across India from Varanasi to Bengaluru. “We need to take care of the people who are trying to save every life,” Andrés told YourStory. “What we are doing may be a drop in the ocean, but it is an important one because these ripple effects make people realize that we are with them and that we are going to beat this.”

The Importance of Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen

Chef José Andrés’ efforts in India represent just some of the most recent examples of how he has used his celebrity and unique talents to help ease the burden of those in need. It is clear through organizations like World Central Kitchen that valuable charitable efforts can come in all varieties of forms. Each can make a real difference in people’s lives and provide them with much-needed physical and mental support.

Brett Grega
Photo: Flickr

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