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Meals for Millions … and More

We’ve all read the headlines and seen the TV footage. But what José Andrés and his World Central Kitchen team accomplished in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria bears repeating. For weeks after the disaster, Andrés and his network of #ChefsForPuertoRico fed nearly two million people across the devastated island. Along with a dedicated team of volunteers, they worked tirelessly to set up satellite kitchens across Puerto Rico, with the largest operation headquartered in San Juan’s Coliseo.
To feed in such numbers, the Andrés team set up 18 kitchens, coordinated the work of more than 500 volunteers, and partnered with a dozen or more food trucks to deploy more than 120,000 meals to people in need on a daily basis. They directed supplies, made sandwiches by the thousands, and cooked and cooked…and then cooked some more. This special chef network comprised a team of Puerto Rican chefs, including Jose Enrique (Jose Enrique Restaurant), Enrique Piñeiro (Mesa 364), Victor Rosado (Treehouse), Wilo Bennett (Pikayo), and Manolo Martinez (Paellas y algo más).
Food trucks and special partners were — and are — essential in distributing meals to hard-to-reach areas. That list included Ocean Deli, High Kitchen, Lemon Submarine, Pisco Labis, El Churry, Yummy Dumplings, Peko Peko, Acai On The Go, The Meatball Company, Dame Un Bite, and Instituto de Banca y Comercio. With these distribution networks in place, #ChefsForPuertoRico reached 78 municipalities throughout the island where hungry people of all ages and stages queued for food and water.
José Andrés founded World Central Kitchen after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti — with the belief that food can be an agent of change. World Central Kitchen has expanded globally and has developed into a group of chefs creating smart solutions to hunger and poverty.
Visit worldcentralkitchen.org/donate to help support this effort. José Andrés and company, we salute you!

Speaking of millions…
Gourmet pizza restaurant, Malawi’s Pizza, has a mission: pairing good food with doing good. The pizza franchise is nearing the one-million milestone in its unique Meal-for-Meal Exchange Program that delivers one meal to a child in Malawi for every meal sold in the U.S. As of late October, the “Journey to a Million Meals” campaign had donated 993,567 meals. Company officials projected that one of their franchises in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Utah, or Texas would ring up the one-millionth sale by early November, if it hasn’t happened already!
“Hitting the one-million mark is about more than just sales,” said Malawi’s co-founder Blake Roney. “It means that one million meals were served to kids and their families in Malawi, and that the unique business model we developed around the core philosophy of giving back is resonating.”
Roney partnered with Chef Kent Andersen to develop the restaurant and its meal exchange program after doing a humanitarian trip to Malawi. The southeast African country is one of the poorest and least developed nations in the world. Under this program, the company delivers nutrient-dense meals to children and their families in villages throughout Malawi, using local maize blended with vitamins and minerals.
Malawi’s Pizza offers a new model for corporate social responsibility by making philanthropy a cornerstone of the business model rather than an afterthought. In addition to the meal giveback program for Malawi, each of the U.S. franchises also partners with a local hunger-fighting charity. More Malawi’s franchises are planned for the DMV region. More pizza, please!

Golf + Gala = Good…for ending childhood hunger!
The Wills Group, a family-owned company headquartered in La Plata, Md., raised more than $500,000 at its inaugural Blackie Wills Golf Classic and Gala. More than 500 people participated in the event, which supports the the Blackie Wills Community Leadership Fund and its efforts to end childhood hunger and ensure safe and healthy homes. The two-day event took place at the Turf Valley Resort in Ellicott City, Md. on September 10 and 11.
Organizations supported by the fund during the past year include Farming4Hunger, a southern Maryland nonprofit that provides 26 percent of the fresh food that goes to the Maryland Food Bank, Jude House, an organization that provides housing and treatment for men and women in recovery, and Lifestyles of Maryland, a southern Maryland nonprofit that serves approximately 14,000 individuals by providing emergency assistance, transportation, housing, and job training.
Since 2006, The Wills Group has donated more than $1.9 million to communities across Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Kindness is a piece of cake
To share a little of their “sweetness” with the rest of the world, D.C. favorite Buttercream Bakeshop launched the #RememberToBeKind campaign during the month of September. With recent natural disasters and some of the news stories of the day, acclaimed chef/owner Tiffany MacIsaac and lead decorator/partner Alex Mudry-Till decided to promote love and kindness with a kindness campaign. Throughout September, customers could buy any of Buttercream Bakeshop’s treats from the bakery and gift it to another customer, with a handwritten note of kindness. The extra 15 percent off the pay-it-forward pastries was just icing on the cake!
MacIsaac remarked, “The campaign was infectious, and it was wonderful to see so many guests participate. It truly has boosted morale and elevated many people’s days!” MacIsaac and Mudry-Till have a saying: “We strive to make people happy, one fresh baked chocolate chip cookie at a time.” Kindness and chocolate chip cookies…hmmmm…works for me!

About the Author

LISA KEATHLEY is the managing editor of Foodservice Monthly.

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