On Monday, July 18th, Chef Andres, World Central Kitchen Founder, announced that WCK has now served 100 million meals in and around Ukraine since the attack on February 24th.
The scale of WCK’s operation to support Ukraine is massive. And that requires ongoing support. Continued donations from humanitarians around the world are essential to keep WCK’s army of Food Fighters cooking in Ukraine. Please join Spotlight Ukraine to support World Central Kitchen and its on-the-ground efforts to nourish Ukrainians during this time of crisis.
Why you should care about Ukraine
Russia’s war on Ukraine has devastated the lives of Ukrainians, ravaged Ukraine’s infrastructure, and according to UNESCO, the war has already damaged over 160 cultural sites in Ukraine. But this is not just a regional conflict. The war is re-shaping the world order. Whether you have direct connections to Ukraine or not, the war will have an impact on your life. We’ve already seen the worst refugee crisis in Europe since WWII, rising energy prices and food shortages across Europe that are now rippling across the globe, and that’s just the beginning; the immense humanitarian, economic, security, and political reverberations of the war are yet to be seen.
“People of the World…Like you, I am distraught watching Ukraine under attack. We must come together as a force for good!”
— Chef José Andrés (Founder, World Central Kitchen)
Join the force for good
July 24th marked five months since Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine and the war rages on with no end in sight. As the situation has unfolded, the war in Ukraine has also become a war on food. Activity at ports and borders has been disrupted, straining the food supply that feeds not only Ukraine, but the world. Since activating almost five months ago, WCK is working on the front lines to combat the war on food: food cargo trains, and WCK’s restaurant and farm partners, have been hit by missiles! Yet, every single day thousands of WCK’s Ukrainian Food Fighters show up to provide nourishing meals and food aid to families remaining in the country. Now more than ever, we need to remain united as global citizens and vigilant in our support for Ukraine. A donation to support World Central Kitchen will help to provide fresh meals to Ukrainians in dire circumstances and to also build ongoing resilience programs.
Whether you can donate $3, $10, $50, or more, it’s important to remember that even the smallest contributions collectively make a big difference. Please join us in supporting World Central Kitchen (WCK) with a donation to our fundraising campaign.
“We are food ﬁghters. We are going to make sure that anybody that is hungry, until things get better, will have a decent plate of food.”
— Chef José Andrés (Founder, World Central Kitchen)
A brief look at WCK’s remarkable humanitarian efforts in Ukraine
Watch the video to see WCK Food Fighters in action, then read on to learn more about WCK’s incredible work and the type of initiatives that the donations to this fundraising campaign support.
WCK is on the ground Day 1
On February 24, 2022, within hours of Russia launching its large-scale military operation in Ukraine, World Central Kitchen was on the ground at the Poland/Ukraine border serving hot meals. In the first few weeks immediately following the Russian invasion, WCK primarily supported refugees — mostly women and children — who fled Ukraine for a safe haven in bordering countries such as Poland, Hungary, and Romania. These refugees typically traveled long journeys to safety on foot, by car or train, often without access to fresh food. WCK was at the border serving fresh meals to refugees as they crossed over. As the war escalated in the ensuing weeks there were millions more refugees that were internally displaced. WCK responded quickly to establish operations within Ukraine to support the surge of internally displaced persons, first establishing a hub in Lviv that has since been expanded to 500+ cities and towns.
WCK’s remarkable ability to adjust and adapt to changing events on a daily basis has proven critical to supporting Ukraine in the first months of the war and will continue to be essential going forward. WCK’s adaptability truly exemplifies the company mantra:
“Wherever there is a ﬁght so that hungry people may eat, we will be there.”
— World Central Kitchen
WCK’s response has scaled rapidly and now has four priorities:
- supporting refugees inside and outside Ukraine,
- providing food relief in recently liberated towns through meals and food kits,
- distributing food products and produce to areas under Russian attack, and
- supporting Ukraine’s crippled food systems.
Here’s how WCK is addressing these priorities.
How WCK is supporting refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs)
WCK continues to support refugees in destination countries such as Spain and Germany. In Spain, WCK is cooking out of its relief kitchen and also partnering with a local restaurant to serve meals to shelters, churches housing refugees, and more. In Germany WCK is serving meals daily at SafeSpace, a refuge for Ukrainians arriving in Leipzig. With the surge of refugees fleeing to the borders ending and a steady flow of refugees crossing back into Ukraine to return home, WCK has shifted its focus on supporting internally displaced persons. Activation in Ukraine’s bordering countries will, however, continue, but at a lower number.
In Ukraine WCK is working with more than 510+ restaurants, food trucks, and caterers to provide fresh meals at formal shelters, transportation hubs such as train stations and airports, and sites that have been turned into shelters like schools, sports facilities, gyms, and local community-based organizations. WCK’s relief model is focused on working with local food businesses, which allows WCK to:
- leverage the existing infrastructure to provide meals immediately,
- invest in the local economy during a crisis when business as usual has halted,
- ensure the meals provided are culturally relevant,
- engage the local community in the overall response.
How WCK is providing food relief in recently liberated towns
Starvation has been used as a weapon in Russia’s war on Ukraine. In Russian occupied areas, Russian fighters have raided grocery stores, destroyed crops and have stolen harvests, while families have been afraid to leave their homes, remaining sheltered and hungry. Chef José and his team of Food Fighters were among the ﬁrst people to enter the towns of Bucha and Irpin after the Russian army retreated, witnessing firsthand the horrific conditions left behind. The destruction in these areas has left local businesses shattered and people with little or no access to food. WCK is distributing meals and food kits throughout the Kyiv region and other liberated areas, which has enabled families to prepare meals in their homes. By the end of June, WCK had already distributed more than 370,000 food kits directly to hard-hit communities.
WCK plans to continue supporting recently liberated areas until the local economies are back up and running, grocery stores are reopened, and the supply chain has normalized.
How WCK is distributing food products and produce to regions on the frontlines
WCK is also distributing food via truck, train, and boat to support communities in areas nearby the Russian-controlled Donbas region. WCK has strategically located warehouses in the region and is collaborating with local community members to transport the food to areas on the frontlines of the conflict. These local partners are providing invaluable intelligence and insight to make this distribution channel possible.
How WCK is supporting Ukraine’s farmers and crippled food system with the pilot seed project
Ukraine is known as the ‘breadbasket of Europe’ and, before the war, was among the top global exporters of grain. The war has crippled Ukraine’s agriculture industry and food systems — currently 30% of Ukraine’s farmland is in Russian occupied territories. In these areas, the Russian occupiers have destroyed crops, stolen harvests, slaughtered livestock, and terrorized farmers. WCK estimates that up to 500,000 tons of grain have been stolen by Russian troops. To support Ukraine’s agriculture sector, WCK is working with the Ministry of Agriculture to identify farms in need of seed — and helping to support these farms by purchasing seeds from a local Ukrainian supplier.
WCK is investing millions of dollars into its pilot project, purchasing seeds for small- and medium-sized subsistence farms. This initiative is designed to get seeds to farmers and planted ahead of season, which will not only get individual farmers back on their feet and ensure crop output, but strengthen the overall local food ecosystem.
As WCK Food Fighters work tirelessly, there’s still no end to the crisis in sight
As of June 28th, WCK has spent $240 million in response to support the humanitarian crisis in and around Ukraine and continues to spend over $2.1 million daily. With this world crisis far from over, let us join together as a force of good to support WCK. A recent update from WCK notes:
“We anticipate having a long-term presence to support Ukraine, but with the conﬂict shifting each day, there is a lot of uncertainty of what form that will take. In addition to distributing nourishing food each day and piloting new initiatives, our teams are prepared to continue adapting as the conﬂict and humanitarian needs inevitably shift.”
— World Central Kitchen
Please help to support World Central Kitchen!
And remember, even the smallest donations collectively make a huge difference. Click here to make your donation now.
UNESCO. (2022, July 19). Damaged cultural sites in Ukraine verified by UNESCO. UNESCO.org. Retrieved July 21, 2022, from https://www.unesco.org/en/articles/damaged-cultural-sites-ukraine-verified-unesco
Photo and video: WCK – Chefs for Ukraine Overview, June 28, 2022 update.