Field Dispatch: José and the #ChefsForMozambique team serve 250,000 meals

Last month, the WCK Chef Relief Team landed in Beira, Mozambique just days after Cyclone Idai slammed into southern Africa. What we found when we arrived was devastating. Nearly 2 million people were in need. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced. More than 1 million acres of crops were destroyed. Communities were completely cut off due to flooding.

Now, more than a month later, WCK has served more than 250,000 hot meals to survivors. Thanks to the support of WCK partners like the Rockefeller Foundation, we're feeding the camps set up to house displaced families, schools, and clinics.

Cooking nutritious meals while supporting the local economy is core to all WCK relief operations.

In the kitchen, José explains, “A lot of chicken, a lot of vegetables, a lot of cabbage today, with peppers, tomatoes, carrots… we always try to employ local, buy local when we can.

The Chef Relief Team, alongside kitchen staff and volunteers, begin cooking early each morning.

"We will keep distributing food until 4, 5, 6 o’clock. So it’s all day sending food to hospitals, refugee camps, and to schools. We are in the north of 10,000 meals today”, José said.

And as long as there is a need, we will be here.

Even with the lives lost, degree of destruction, and health crisis taking place, the people of Beira remain resilient and hopeful. We are honored to be able to support this community in their recovery process.

Early on in our operation, we met Ruy M. Santos. He traveled from Maputo, Mozambique to help coordinate operations in our first kitchen. He’s been working with us ever since. Without leaders like Ruy, it would be impossible to serve thousands of people a day.

We’ve also been fortunate enough to work with Celestina Monteiro. Tina’s been our Logistician-in-Chief since soon after we opened, and she is responsible for coordinating chefs, volunteers, drivers, and partners to make sure no less than 10,000 meals get delivered nice and hot, every single day. She dreams of one day opening her own non-profit organization.

Beyond our crew of amazing volunteers, we have met so many strong members of the local community. Fina, pictured with her daughter Dercia and her sister-in-law Edna, was out of Beira when the cyclone hit. When she came back, she found that her entire house had collapsed. Her family is currently living in a shelter and she told us, “The food is really good and tasty. Can’t you see how happy Dercia is with her plate?”

We also got to meet Domingos. He’s 15 years old and dreams of becoming a professional boxer. He, his mother, and his sister lost their home in Cyclone Idai. He’s also taking a training course to become an auto electrician. He told us that he continues in courses because he wants to be able to take care of his mother. "She’s everything to me", he told us.

The situation in Mozambique remains critical. Sanitation and health safety have been especially important components of this relief operation. Cholera spreads through contaminated water, and the aftermath of the cyclone in Beira combined an influx of people living in close quarters with limited sanitation and hygiene systems. Due to these conditions, it was not surprising that there was an outbreak.

In response to the outbreak, the WCK team has taken extra precautions when preparing and serving food, while at the same time delivering hot, nutritious meals to those recovering from illness in clinics and hospitals.

World Central Kitchen is committed to assisting the community in Mozambique overcome the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai.

"This is massive. We cannot forget the people of Mozambique" -José