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José Andrés And His World Central Kitchen Are in Gaza

If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ll know that the Israeli Defence Forces and local mobsters have been making it hard for relief organizations to get food aid to starving Gazans. Now, World Central Kitchen is in Gaza, making a difference…

Open Arms Ship - © 2024 - Open ArmsThe Open Arms relief ship, preparing to transport WCK food supplies to Gaza from Cyprus…

A ‘humanitarian crisis’

“Gaza’s humanitarian crisis is particularly dire in the north, where many of the estimated 300,000 people still living there have been reduced to eating animal fodder to survive,” CBS News reports. “The U.N. says one in six children younger than 2 in the north suffers from acute malnutrition.”

But it seems the odds are stacked against starving Gazans, cut off from regular road and air contact with the rest of the world by the Israeli siege. The most critical issue facing them is getting enough food to survive. Early attempts to get food aid into the zone by truck have been met with armed attacks. Attempts to air-drop food have met with failure. And they’ve been assailed as ‘too little to make a difference’.

World Central Kitchen to the rescue?

Most recently, an aid group has launched 2 shiploads of relief supplies from Cyprus. Whether they’ll be able to land their cargo on the Gazan coast remains to be seen. And the US military is reported to be planning to deliver and install a system of floating docks to help relief ships unload.

But more immediately, and perhaps more importantly, Spanish super-Chef José Andrés (see photo, top of page) has dispatched his World Central Kitchen (WCK) organization to Gaza. They’re making meals for the Gazans. Just like they did – and still are doing – in Ukraine, for tens of thousands of folks, bombed out of their homes by Russian attacks. An estimated 1.7 million of Gaza’s 2.3 million people had been ‘de-housed’ as of January 20. Since then, many more have been bombed out under increasingly heavy Israeli attacks.

What they’re doing…

A WCK  post on X (formerly known as Twitter) reported: “WCK-provided aid has set sail for Gaza on the @openarms_fund boat. We dispatched almost 200 tons of food—rice, flour, legumes, canned veggies & proteins. Alongside the @UAEAid & @CyprusMFA, our Relief Team is working to send as many aid boats as possible.”

WCK goes into regions in crisis, and feeds as many disaster-effected people as possible with the resources it can muster. It brings mobile kitchens, food and – perhaps most importantly – professional cooks to fulfill the mandate.

Not nearly enough, yet…

WKC says it’s opened more than 60 community kitchens in Gaza since the Israeli-Hamas war began last October. And it has been using whatever food resources it could get in by truck to serve more than 37 million meals, as of this writing.

But that’s still not nearly enough. If only 1.7 million de-housed civillians in Gaza needed food, that would still be over 50 million meals per month – at one meal a day. To feed all 2.3 million Gazans – most of whom are in dire need of food – WKC and other groups, together, would have to provide more than 70 million meals a month. And they’ve only been able to serve about half that number, total, over the past 4 months.

What they’re serving…

The emphasis is on concentrated nutrition and a balanced diet. WKC secured donations of, or purchased, 500 tonnes of food which was staged to Cyprus for transport to Gasza. Much of that bounty consists of, “rice, flour, canned vegetables, protein and legumes.” WKC says that’s enough ingredients to make ‘almost 500,000 meals’. The ship arrived in Gaza Last Friday.

Those foods are essential, core ingredients. Rice and legumes, together, provide a rich complete dietary protein in a form many Gazas will find familiar. Other proteins will be more acceptable to other folks with different cultural and culinary backgrounds. Flour is essential to make bread products. And everyone needs vegetables in their diet, for vitamins and minerals.

My take

World Central Kitchen has proven itself time and again when folks desperately needed food. In Puerto Rico after a hurricane. In California after all-consuming wild fires. On the dock when a cruise ship full of tourists was locked down during the COVID crisis. WCK seems to be able to respond, with the right kind of food aid, in the right amount, in any disaster relief scenario.

Bravo, José, for coming up with the idea of WCK is the fist place. And personally spearheading its creation!

~ Maggie J.

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