Asturian chef José Andrés setup World Central Kitchen in 2010 and since has regularly partnered with local cooks and restaurants and suppliers to feed people who are hungry, starving, in need to comfort and warmth, inc. in Haiti, Puerto Rico and, most recently, Ukraine.

World Central Kitchen Logo

You can and should donate if you have the means

The work they do, reminds me a lot of one of the foundational practices of Sikhism: the operation of langars, kitchens where any person of any religion — or no religion at all — can grab a free meal simply by showing up at the appointed time. Whilst a typical langar operates on a fixed schedule and is based out of a gurdwar (a word often translated as “temple” or “church”), from time to time, though, members of a gurdwara may set up a temporary, pop-up langar at the site of a disaster, or any place where a lot of people were going hungry for some reason.

Like Andrés and his teams, they use local suppliers, donations, cooks and feed anyone, no questions asked. If you turn up, you’ll get a meal.

And as I type these words, I can feel the tears pricking my eyes.

Every disaster area is different; yet all are ultimately the same in what’s needed. Love, food, water, shelter, clothes, comfort. Community. The idea that, even though your old life has been ripped to shreds, sometimes literally, that you may not be able to go back to your old house, your family, your country even, that those you know are dead or injured, and yet still there’s a smiling, friendly face in front of you. They may not speak your language. Or they may. It doesn’t matter really. This person is offering you some soup, some tea, some rice or beans. A sandwich.

Reminding you of your humanity despite everything that has happened; and of theirs.

There are a lot of possible definitions for the human condition. The one he uses, seems to me, to be a very good start:

Cooking and eating together is what makes us human.

Every disaster exists in its own continuum, but they become interconnected through our personal experience. That history becomes interlocked with your own. Can I suggest therefore that you do what you can to be part of the human community? You can and should donate if you have the means. One day, this person may be you.



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