Chef José Andrés Has Provided Over 2.2 Million Meals In Puerto Rico

When natural disasters occur, many times people gather together to do food drives and fundraisers, but after a while, they stop helping, even though the help is badly needed as it is in the case of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Chef José Andrés arrived on the island, ready to cook, setting up kitchens all over and to this date, he’s helped serve over 2.2 million meals to people in need.

chef Andrés

Chef Andrés (center), his nonprofit World Central Kitchen and local chefs (joined under the name #chefsforpuertorico) spent a month cooking stews and paella in the parking lot of the largest stadium in Puerto Rico to feed people after Hurricane Maria. Credit Eric Rojas for The New York Times

His “emergency feeding program” is the largest ever set up by a group of chefs and the work they’re doing is so greatly appreciated. “Every day I have this personal anxiety inside,” says Andrés to The New York Times.  “We only came here to try to help a few thousand because nobody had a plan to feed Puerto Rico, and we opened the biggest restaurant in the world in a week. That’s how crazy this is.”

Since the hurricane touched the island with 3.4 million residents on September 20th, he’s helped build a network of kitchens, supply chains, and delivery services that offers warm meals and sandwiches.

“He’s much more than a hero,” said Jesus R. Rivera, a resident who witnessed what this chef is doing. “The situation is that still, some people don’t even have food. He is all that is keeping them from starving.”

What he’s been able to accomplish is pretty remarkable because not even the Salvation Army nor any government entity has fed the masses like he has.

chef andrés

Pastor Eliomar Santana, who persuaded Andrés to let his congregation open a kitchen as part of Mr. Andrés’s food-distribution program, with the chef during his first visit to the Jesucristo Monte Moria Pentecostal Church. Church members made a video to honor the chef’s work on the island. Credit Eric Rojas for The New York Times

“It’s part of a larger trend we’re starting to see with corporations and individuals who are applying their unique skill sets to solve problems after a disaster,” said Bob Ottenhoff, the president and chief executive of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

This isn’t the first time he’s done this either because Andrés helped out after Hurricane Sandy, and after Hurricane Harvey too.