Totally OT — but perhaps useful: World Central Kitchen
I’ve been horrified by the news coming out of Ukraine and truly hate the fact that news outlets never tell you what you can actually DO to help the people featured in the stories they publish. A little bit of internetting leads to all sorts of efforts to donate to –and many are worthwhile– but in case you’re still looking, may I suggest World Central Kitchen? (I have no relationship with WCK, other than as a donor. Charity Navigator gives WCK its highest rating.)
WCK was started by chef Jose Andres to help support the people of Haiti after the devastating earthquake there in 2010. Mr. Andres realized that people needed to eat and knew that, as a food “name”, he could rally celebrity friends to donate to fund the mission — and WCK was born. Today, according to their website, WCK operates in Poland to help people fleeing war in Ukraine, in Tonga (that volcano eruption), Brazil (flooding), Madagascar (cyclone), Afghanistan and in other parts of the world — and they’re still active in Haiti, too.
They’ve been in Poland for a few weeks, serving meals to refugees as they stream across the border. Last night, WCK said they served thousands of meals to people who had been walking for days or stuck in many hours of traffic, trying to get across the border. How they do this is somewhat magical and so very practical: They set up their own kitchens for work in remote crisis areas, but also work with local food trucks and restaurants, setting them up to prepare meals for refugee populations further in Poland. WCK said this morning that they’re up and running in several places in Poland, and are trying to get set up in Moldova, Slovakia, and Hungary, and in Odessa and Lviv in Ukraine.
I donated to WCK because of a photo of a man handing styrofoam containers of food to people stuck in an infinite line of cars trying to cross from Ukraine into Poland. He turned out to be from a WCK food truck on the Polish side and was walking to people still stuck in Ukraine. Many NGOs are still setting up; WCK is on the ground now, doling out hot food and drink to frightened displaced people. I can’t think of a better way to help.
You can donate to WKC on your own (here) or you can have your donation go further by using a Facebook or Instagram donation page — both companies have said they’ll cover the transaction costs. Try here, for Smitten Kitchen’s Facebook drive; (Smitten Kitchen is Deb Perelman; her recipes never let me down.) When I last checked, Smitten Kitchen had raised over $200,000 for WCK — a great start but a drop in the ocean compared to what’s probably needed.
As Mr. Andres has said, “Food relief is not just a meal that keeps hunger away. It’s a plate of hope. It tells you in your darkest hour that someone, somewhere, cares about you.” And I think many Ukrainians (and, of course, lots of others around the world) need to know that we care.
The title image is WCK’s logo, credit to World Central Kitchen/WCK.org.