As the coronavirus crisis hit Spain, world famous chef José Andrés and his colleagues at World Central Kitchen (WCK) got to work. WCK is a non-profit organisation that works to feed people in the aftermath of disasters and it was no different once it became apparent that COVID-19 would provoke a health and economic emergency. In Spain (the home country of José Andrés) and the USA (where WCK is based), an initiative was created to provide daily meals to those who needed them most.
To date, over two million meals have been distributed in Spain through WCK’s #ChefsForSpain campaign, thanks to volunteering chefs across the country and more than 150 distribution points that have been set up. One of these points is Mestalla, the home of Valencia CF, where José Andrés was welcomed by club president Anil Murthy for a visit and was presented with an honorary shirt with his name on it.
“For me, using the stadium makes me very happy,” José Andres said. “I'm delighted that Valencia has lent this space to the Banco de Alimentos food bank. These people needed help and I'm grateful to the club for the initiative to help an organisation that is so important right now. The same place where people have been celebrating victories, dreams and league titles has now been converted into somewhere to give hope during an emergency.”
Murthy himself explained how important it has been for the city and for the various food bank campaigns to be able to use such a large, well-known and central location. “Our temple in the city centre, Mestalla, was a pioneer stadium to open up its doors in collaboration with chef José Andrés of the World Central Kitchen and other social activists here in Valencia to feed the people, many of whom had lost their jobs and needed food,” he said. “It was a huge success and we thank all of the collaborators who came forward to work with us to do this wonderful social work.”
Making Mestalla available for the distribution of food is not the only way that Valencia CF helped during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the support of club owner Peter Lim, the club obtained 50,000 high-quality face masks and 300 thermometers to donate to local hospitals, while the club’s social media accounts regularly updated followers on the latest sanitary guidelines. The players also joined the #CoronaVida initiative to support the Casa Caridad in Valencia, an NGO that operates in the city and that helps the homeless and those at risk of social exclusion.
“For many years, we’ve been working in this field through our foundation to help people who need society to come in when times are difficult,” Murthy added. “When the COVID-19 crisis hit Spain, we were the first ones to come forward to help the people and to help the government that was looking for provisions to see how to get through this crisis. We continue to look at this crisis as a way for our club, as the biggest social ambassador here, to give back to society.”
With the LaLiga Santander season now over, those at the club continue to dedicate time to looking after the most vulnerable in society. Charitable efforts with WCK will also continue both in Spain and in the USA. As Andrés concluded: “#ChefsForSpain is here to ensure that food insecurity is not a problem.”