BIG update: Governor Ricardo Rossello has requested that FEMA activate its TSA program so that displaced Peurto Ricans can start staying in hotel rooms that will be paid for by FEMA.
FEMA confirms they’ve received the Governor’s request and says it’s “currently under review.”
Chef José Andrés is scaling back his humanitarian food serving operation in Puerto Rico. He estimates he’s served more than 1.9 million meals, so far.
Tonight, he joined me from San Juan to explain why.
He also details frustrations with FEMA.
Note: FEMA has paid his organization “World Central Kitchen” at least 1.4 million dollars to provide 10,000 meals per day, for seven days, according to the first contract negotiated with FEMA. Details were provided to me by a FEMA representative. A second contract, being finalized as of October 17th, would require World Central Kitchen to provide meals for survivors in Puerto Rico for up to 3 months.
(Below is a statement Chef Andrés issued, today):
San Juan, Puerto Rico, October 25, 2017
World Central Kitchen (www.WorldCentralKitchen.org) today announced that it is entering a new phase of its support for the American people of Puerto Rico, scaling down its operations to serve communities in the greatest need.
In this new phase of #ChefsForPuertoRico, World Central Kitchen and its partners will maintain a series of satellite kitchens set up to reach communities that are most vulnerable, including the municipalities of Ponce, Vieques, Humacao and Naguabo.
As a result, the central cooking and feeding operations at the Coliseo in San Juan will close on October 26, 2017. World Central Kitchen is opening a new production facility at Vivo Beach Club in Carolina to prepare daily meals for delivery via food trucks and partners to the hardest hit communities across the island.
“We are very happy with what we have accomplished in Puerto Rico. After serving almost two million meals, #ChefsforPuertoRico will continue meeting the needs of the American citizens who need the most help in Puerto Rico,” said Chef José Andrés, chairman and founder of World Central Kitchen.
“Now is the time to support local businesses so Puerto Rico can rebuild. We need to focus on the people who still need our help – the people in remote areas, the elderly, and the sick,” continued Andrés.
Based on intelligence drawn from its extensive island-wide operations, World Central Kitchen believes the Puerto Rican food economy is moving into a new stage of recovery. As a result, World Central Kitchen is shifting to a more targeted, scaled-back approach rather than mass producing and distributing free food that could swamp an emerging economy in these fragile, early stages of recovery. It is calling on the federal government and leading NGO relief groups to follow suit.
“We need to be smart about what we all do now,” said Andrés. “We must not hurt the small restaurants that feed the people at a much lower cost.”
Since arriving on the island on September 25, 2017, World Central Kitchen has established an unprecedented network of local chefs and partners, serving more than 1.9 million meals and setting up 18 satellite kitchens to reach all 78 municipalities of Puerto Rico. The organization has activated a local, committed network with a proven model that can be sustained by local partners and the federal government, with the support of the people of Puerto Rico.
To reach this milestone, World Central Kitchen leveraged the private sector to meet the urgent public needs of millions of hungry Americans. By establishing systems, a local supply chain and distribution infrastructure, World Central Kitchen mobilized the most significant food relief operation on the island, effectively creating the largest restaurant in the world in less than two weeks.
In this next phase, #ChefsForPuertoRico will remain active in Ponce and Adjuntas with the help of local chef Ventura Vivoni of Restaurante Vida Ventura; Chef Eva Bolivar of Restaurante Bili and Chef Carlos Perez of El Blok in Vieques; Chef Kalych Padro at an Ejida in Humacao. Additionally, World Central Kitchen will continue to support the satellite kitchen in Naguabo at the Iglesia de Jesucristo Monte Moriah.
Since launching the #ChefsForPuertoRico network, a hard-working team of noted Puerto Rican chefs and restaurant partners, alongside an army of dedicated volunteers, the Instituto Banca y Comercio vocational schools and ASORE (Puerto Rico’s restaurant association), have collaborated to produce now more than 120,000 quality hot meals and sandwiches every day.
“We joined this effort because it was the right thing to do: to get hot meals to people without power, food and water. As small businesses start to open, the focus of World Central Kitchen, #ChefsForPuertoRico and ASORE needs to switch into a different phase where the food is prepared and only given to the places that really need it. We need to stop sending food to everybody because the local restaurants are going to be impacted. The ones that are opening need to have the capability to sell great hot food and drinks to the people. We can’t just bring in tons and tons of free food and water because the local economy will suffer worse than from the impact from Maria. It’s time to move into the next phase. We have almost 3,000 restaurants open and they need to have the ability to sell,” said Ramon Léal, president of ASORE.
The #ChefsForPuertoRico team includes José Enrique (José Enrique Restaurant), Enrique Piñeiro (Mesa 364), Victor Rosado (Treehouse), Wilo Bennett (Pikayo), José Santaella (Santaella), and Manolo Martinez (Paellas y Algo Más). The team also relies on 10 food trucks including Ocean Deli, High Kitchen, Lemon Submarine, Pisco Labis, El Churry, Yummy Dumplings, Peko Peko, Acai on the Go, and The Meatball Company, as well as Puerto Rican local government and private sector partners.