Editor's note: This story was updated on April 20 to reflect additional information on World Central Kitchen's efforts in and around Ukraine, as well as the attack on the charity kitchen in Kharkiv on April 16.
After this story was originally published, World Central Kitchen became one of the grassroots beneficiaries of GlobalGiving's Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund, supported by Global Citizen's Stand Up for Ukraine campaign. You can donate here.
Celebrity chef José Andrés is using his platform once again to address food insecurity during a crisis.
Andrés’ charitable organization World Central Kitchen (WCK) is feeding thousands of refugees from Ukraine in neigboring countries, as well as Ukrainians who remain in the country, according to the Washington Post.
Access to food is limited due to blocked roads and closed stores following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Families — mostly women and children — were bearing freezing temperatures in their cars waiting to flee the country, Andrés said in a Feb. 28 video he posted on Twitter.
WCK has launched efforts to feed people at shelters and pop-up facilities, as well as partnering with local restaurants, and is prepared to continue to help those impacted by the conflict as long as needed. As of April 3, WCK is delivering nearly 300,000 daily meals in more than 30 cities and towns across Ukraine, and has expanded its efforts to seven countries.
“There’s many ways to fight the war,” Andrés said in a video he shared on Twitter from a bakery in Lviv, where he delivered flour. “These women, these men, are fighting the war making sure people are fed.”
After the violence in Ukraine ends, WCK plans to help organize food trucks in the country and open community kitchens.
Meals are out for delivery in Kharkiv, Ukraine 🇺🇦 As the attack intensifies, supplies are becoming increasingly difficult to come by—working with 4 kitchens through Yaposhka, we’re supporting meal deliveries to people sheltering in bunkers and others in need. #ChefsForUkrainepic.twitter.com/gm6V1yAZ3e— World Central Kitchen (@WCKitchen) March 2, 2022
On April 16, one of WCK's restaurant partners, Yaposhka, was destroyed when a missile hit Kharkiv, injuring staff.
"World Central Kitchen condemns, in the strongest possible terms, attacks on civilians and humanitarian relief partners," the organization said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to the Yaposhka staff who were injured in the recent missile attack and to all Ukrainians who have been tragically affected by the invasion."
The staff members are recovering, and Yaposhka will move to a new location in order to continue cooking and delivering food.
I want to introduce you to 3 brave staff from @WCKitchen restaurant Yaposhka! Yulia, Liza, and Yulia are in good spirits & recovering in the hospital after the missile attack. Yulia—next to me—said she’s excited to come back to help feed 1000s once her burns heal. True heroes! 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/xqqJe4mjcw— Nate Mook (@natemook) April 17, 2022
Andrés founded WCK in 2010 following a devastating earthquake in Haiti, and the organization has since served more than 60 million fresh meals to people in emergencies.
Food disruptions in Ukraine will not only impact the country and Ukrainian refugees, but also some of the world’s poorest people. Many low-income countries depend on grain imports from the Black Sea Basin, according to the New York Times. Russia and Ukraine are responsible for 29% of global wheat exports. Bangladesh, Sudan, and Pakistan received roughly half or more of their wheat from Russia or Ukraine in 2020. Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP), which supplies food to assist with the world’s biggest hunger-related emergencies, gets 50% of its grains from the Ukraine-Russia area.
“It’s going [to] have a dramatic impact on food costs, shipping costs, oil, and fuel,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley said. “This is catastrophe on top of catastrophe.”
Before Russia invaded Ukraine, COVID-19 pandemic supply chain issues had already inflated food prices. Russia and Belarus are major exporters of fertilizer and a spike in prices threatens global crop production.
Along with WCK, the food industry, grassroots organizations, and the international community are mobilizing and showing solidarity with the people of Ukraine. The World Food Programme also launched an emergency food assistance initiative for people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine and in neighboring countries.
"People, we need to speak up against leaders that are breaking us apart," Andrés said in March.
"Life is not a Monopoly game. Life is real. And the voiceless and the poor are always facing the consequences."
Disclosure: The World Food Programme is a funding partner of Global Citizen.