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José Andrés’s Nonprofit Serves 10,000 Meals to Bay Area Furloughed Workers

Volunteers are still providing relief from this man-made disaster

Workers line up for meals prepared by volunteers, including chef Tyler Florence.
World Central Kitchen [Official Photo]

Since there are about 18,000 federal employees in the Bay Area, chef José Andrés brought his nonprofit World Central Kitchen out west after feeding furloughed workers for weeks in Washington D.C.

On Monday, World Central Kitchen starting serving thousands of meals to folks affected by the government shutdown. Even though the shutdown — the longest in American history — has ended, not all workers have received their first paychecks yet. Today is the nonprofit’s last day in town.

By the end of today, World Central Kitchen will have served 10,500 meals to the Coast Guard, NASA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Agriculture, Social Security Administration, Department of Transportation, and the office of Nancy Pelosi.

Volunteers have been cooking in Emeryville in partnership with Paula LeDuc Fine Catering & Events. Celebrity chef Tyler Florence, his wife/business partner Tolan Florence, and Oakland caterer Nybll have also been heavily involved.

World Central Kitchen was in Northern California not too long ago — volunteers arrived in Butte County to feed victims of the Camp Fire for Thanksgiving. While the nonprofit usually responds to natural disasters, the government shutdown — a man-made disaster — also fit the bill. With a hot meal in hand, local federal workers received some relief this week.

”Tyler and I, we were so inspired after serving alongside José and his team in Chico at Thanksgiving,” Tolan says in a statement. “We spend a lot of time teaching our children about the importance of food — and know that in a disaster, food can be the best expression of love and humanity. When we got the call from José about supporting furloughed government workers, we knew we had to respond.”

“The generous contributions of World Central Kitchen, the Florences, and volunteers provided a warm welcome for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency staff and contractors returning to work this week,” says Laura Ebbert, chief of staff at the EPA, in a statement. “In addition to providing meals for 425 of our families, the appreciation for the work we do protecting human health and the environment was a heartwarming reminder of the power and importance of public service.”

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