As the federal government reopened last week after the longest shutdown in U.S. history, WCK is proud to have served 100,000+ meals to federal workers and their families in D.C., and partnered with 400+ restaurants in 35 states across the nation to serve several hundred thousand more meals nationwide.
With over 800,000 federal employees and contractors being impacted, our team recognized the immense load that continuing to provide quality food for their families – without a paycheck – put on these men and women. And so, we opened the doors of our kitchen on Pennsylvania Avenue on January 15th, and stayed open for an additional week after the shutdown ended to ensure that those waiting for paychecks had one less thing to worry about.
Our #ChefsForFeds effort was a natural extension of our mission — to join the fight to feed those who are hungry. We understand that the lack of access to food is widespread and far-reaching, especially in times of disaster and humanitarian crises. That’s why it’s our job to provide food with dignity for those who need it.
“I first learned of World Central Kitchen while deployed to Puerto Rico helping with hurricane response efforts. When I returned to D.C., I committed to being a donor to WCK,” one federal worker on furlough who came in for lunch mentioned to us. “Now I’m a direct beneficiary of the delicious meals provided to those impacted by the shutdown. Words can’t express how thankful I am.”
None of this would have been possible at our Pennsylvania Ave location without the support of hundreds of volunteers working 1,500 volunteer shifts, or local business partners like Capitol Kettle Corn and Ommade who donated delicious products. Soon after inception, #ChefsForFeds grew beyond providing just food, thanks to incredible business partners who stood up to support with vital resources – like covering phone and energy bills, and providing groceries and health products – including AARP, Whole Foods, Pepco, Xfinity, Dominion Energy, The Salvation Army, Capital Area Food Bank, and more. An additional 11,276 people were assisted by the #ChefsForFeds Resource Center, and we were able to send 12,645 meal kits with fresh produce for families to prepare at home.
Although the shutdown was particularly felt in the nation’s capital, the impact was much further reaching. WCK launched #ChefsForFeds Nation shortly after we opened our kitchen and put out a call for restaurants around the country to provide free hot meals to federal workers in their communities — and we were overwhelmed by the response. Our restaurant partners in 400 different communities helped to ensure that federal workers from California to Vermont had the comfort of a hot plate of food.
WCK is closely monitoring the ongoing federal funding discussions and is standing by to reopen our kitchen in the event of another shutdown. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest updates!