We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time

“We were just a couple of chefs, who know how to cook, trying to feed the many.”

Few natural disasters have done more damage or been harder to recover from than hurricane Maria that struck Puerto Rico.  Andrés saw that the most immediate problem was to feed the people.  Surely food and water are the most essential needs in any emergency.  But how do you feed over 3 million people isolated on an island that has been stripped of both natural and manmade resources?

Andrés came with experience in Haiti and Houston as well as a number of other places.  Chefs of million dollar restaurants have the management, leadership and cooking skills to get the job done.  Supplies, inventory, logistics, distribution and marketing are their trademark – as well as cooking.  They can handle chaos.

With an approach far removed from that of the government and the Red Cross, Chefs for Puerto Rico did more than provide basic, unappealing calories.  “Yes, we need water, food, and shelter.  But we need our food to represent something more than food, if we are to rebuild our lives.  Meals need to be cooked for our communities to come back together.”  Hundreds of local volunteers and dozens of local chefs prepared local supplies for a total of 1,500,000 meals, as many as 150,000 meals a day. Working from small restaurants and school kitchens as well as large facilities they were able to reach distant community and supply the volume needed.  By listening to and involving the local people they also fed the spirit and helped to rebuild the economy.

“People wanted to help, but they had no experience. Yet there’s a world of difference between wanting to do good and knowing how to make it happen.”  With certainty that there will be more disasters ahead, we need to learn from those who have dealt with them successfully.

Check out  www.worldcentralkitchen.org

Review by Janet T., Reference Librarian

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