Neighbors Nourishing Neighbors – Garden & Gun

photo: Metropolitan Ministries

World Central Kitchen partnered with Metropolitan Ministries, a Tampa Bay nonprofit that shared its commercial kitchen to prepare meals.

Just a week after the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit World Central Kitchen deployed to help feed communities in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Bermuda and Nova Scotia in Following Hurricane Fiona, the relief team set their sights on Florida ahead of Hurricane Ian.

The storm wasn’t expected to hit until midweek, but the team arrived in Tampa on Sunday with four semi-trucks full of supplies and immediately began preparing for the job ahead. “We spent the first two days here in Tampa bringing as much food as we could, as much water as we could, anticipating that the storm would intensify and there would be a large-scale need after the storm hit. hurricane,” says Fiona Donovan. , Director of Relief Operations.

Founded in 2010 by chef José Andrés, World Central Kitchen serves fresh dishes in response to crises around the world. More than a decade later, World Central Kitchen has served over 200 million meals worldwide, and they’ve built a network of volunteers, including chefs, drivers, and pilots, who can cook and deliver meals. hot in some of the most difficult circumstances. .

photo: World Central Kitchen

Volunteers have prepared and served more than 100,000 meals since Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida on Wednesday.

For the Hurricane Ian response, WCK partnered with Metropolitan Ministries, a Tampa Bay nonprofit that provides services to at-risk and homeless families and shared its commercial kitchen to prepare meals. Volunteers collected the first batch of 5,000 meals – including pasta Bolognese, barbecued meatballs served over saffron rice and ham and cheese sandwiches for quick bites – early Thursday morning and have undertook to deliver them to the hardest hit areas of Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Sarasota and surrounding communities impacted by Ian’s arrival as a Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday. “We share a common mission to first relieve immediate suffering by providing nutritious meals,” said Tim Marks, President and CEO of Metropolitan Ministries. “Because we’ve seen with our own eyes that hope starts with a meal, especially in situations like this.”

To achieve its goal of preparing tens of thousands of meals a day for delivery to Florida communities in need, WCK works with nearly forty restaurants and food trucks in the region, including Shiso Crispy in St. Petersburg and Monster Burgers in Miami. , and expects to be working with more in the days and weeks to come. Through these partnerships, WCK and its network of volunteers delivered 100,000 meals within three days of Ian.

photo: World Central Kitchen

The rescue team lends a hand.

Hab Hamde, the executive chef of Boulon, a French bistro in Tampa, cooked alongside Chef Andres and other WCK volunteers. “I am grateful to the team at World Central Kitchen for giving Florida residents and chefs like me and our team at Boulon and Forbici the opportunity to help those in desperate need,” Hamde said. . “I have only been able to contribute seventeen hours in the past two days, which is incomparable to the team at World Central Kitchen, who have contributed at least seventeen hours a day since the arrival of the hurricane.”

Ronicca Whaley, who owns and manages a fleet of three Shiso Crispy food trucks in St. Petersburg, began working with WCK three days after relief efforts began. She and her team cook 1,000 servings a day of her best-selling dish, Bang Bang Chicken, served with sticky rice and green beans. Whaley launched Shiso Crispy at the start of COVID as a way to reach out and build communities. “There are so many people who don’t have one, and it’s so easy to help when you’re mobile and can do whatever you want with the truck,” she says. “Many of our subscribers help out in the truck and donate food and time. Everyone is excited and generous, and everyone wants to be part of it.

photo: Metropolitan Ministries

Florida chefs, food truck operators, bartenders and drivers volunteered their time to help cook and deliver meals.

Kamran Mir, a bartender from Tampa who knew the work of World Central Kitchen before he arrived in Tampa, volunteered Thursday. During his shift in the kitchen, he cooked, distributed pasta bolognese in serving trays for transport, prepared vegetables for the next day’s meals and enjoyed a family meal with the WCK and metropolitan ministries teams.

“The idea that there are real chefs in the kitchen making meals from scratch to give to these people, I love that as a concept,” Mir says, adding that it was widely expected that the storm would hit Tampa much harder than it did, and instead devastated communities further up the coast. “I feel like we in our area and in Tampa in general have been so lucky. It’s literally the least I can do, give a day of my time to help out.

Flooding of the Myakka River south of Sarasota shut down I-75, impacting meal delivery to Southwest Florida from Tampa. “We have planes and helicopters as part of our logistics operation, so today [Saturday] we airlifted our food instead of driving,” Donovan says.

photo: Metropolitan Ministries

The team arrived in Tampa before the storm hit with four tractor-trailers full of supplies and immediately began preparing for the job ahead.

She adds that they work with the state and individual counties, and everyone agrees that the scale of the need is huge. WCK plans to open a second kitchen in Fort Myers on Monday to expand its reach. “The outpouring of support within the Florida community…it was really beautiful to see how many people want to give their time and their cars, whatever they have to help us,” Donovan says.

Those interested in volunteering with WCK in the kitchens of Tampa or Fort Myers can visit wck.org/volunteer and choose the Florida option. Monetary donations are another way to help. Find more ways to help here.

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