Baltimore — Celebrity Chef José Andrés is a man on a mission to feed the world and help struggling restaurants. That mission has brought him to the Breaking Bread restaurant in Baltimore.
“Why we need to be having hunger lines in America? Why do we need to see people in long lines with cars snowing or raining waiting for a box of food?” Andrés asked.
Across the country, Andrés and his nonprofit World Central Kitchen pay local restaurants to prepare hot meals for the hungry. Since April, 175,000 meals have been served in Baltimore, with $1 million going back to the community.
“We saw restaurants that were unable to have customers. They were unable to pay their staff. And we saw hungry families. So, we thought, ‘Why don’t we connect those two things?'” he said.
It’s an arrangement that helps the hungry and keeps the lights on. Kimberly Ellis, chef and owner of Breaking Bread, said she would not still be in business without it.
“I don’t want to get emotional,” Ellis said, “but it really saved us.”
At nearby Catherine’s Family Services, Andrés and his helpers are handing out 400 meals and fresh food. Tyshera Mitchell depends on the food giveaway to feed her three children.
“It’s real big that I get food and stuff for my kids so they can eat,” Mitchell said.
Andrés wants Congress to allow hungry people to spend their food stamps, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program dollars, in restaurants. That, he said, would be a simple solution to a complex problem.
“What you see here is people showing you that boots on the ground works, that programs work, that they can uplift communities one meal at a time,” Andrés said.
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