Hospitality in a Hurricane

In Buzz, October 2018by Jane Porter

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While there was some flooding here, as well as downed trees, branches and street signs, and roughly ten percent of residences lost power, Raleigh—compared with much of the rest of the state—came off in the wake of Hurricane Florence last month relatively lightly.

But it likely didn’t feel that way to those in the midst of the storm who didn’t, for whatever reason, have a place to call home.

During the week of the hurricane, the nonprofit World Central Kitchen arrived in Raleigh and Wilmington, ready to serve 150,000 cooked meals to evacuees, first responders and anyone else going hungry during the storm. While most of the WCK team headed directly to the coast, which fared significantly worse than Raleigh, some stayed in town and, together with Rocky Top Catering which provided the kitchen space, fed evacuees and hungry locals at the State Fairgrounds, the South Wilmington Street Shelter and at other locations in and around the city. 

Chef José Andrés, who started World Central Kitchen in 2013 after the earthquake in Haiti, wanted to bring a network of chefs together to partner with one another in locations across the country, and the world, when disaster strikes. Following the devastation of Hurricane Maria last year, WCK served over a million meals to those impacted in Puerto Rico.

“Our premise is that we chefs take care of each other and, wherever there is a disaster or a need, we can always find an empty kitchen or a partner chef and we have helpers that want to volunteer and start up a relief kitchen and start cooking and providing meals,” says Tim Kilcoyne, a WCK lead chef who is based in California. “From Ground Zero, we were able to support people who evacuated from coastal areas and were coming into different shelters [nearby].”

Kilcoyne estimates that the group cooked and served as many as 11,000 meals a day for several days in the Raleigh area during Hurricane Florence, and even more in Wilmington. He says around a dozen chefs across North Carolina are involved in the organization, with more and more volunteers joining, and the group hopes to utilize more kitchen locations across the state in the near future.

“Many people were woking their butts off and just needed a home-cooked meal to provide comfort, especially to people who have lost their homes,” Kylcoyne says. “If you’re not able to access your home, a hot meal goes a long way.”

You can help support World Central Kitchen’s efforts by donating online at worldcentralkitchen.org/donate.

Other worthy groups still in need of your support include The North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund, Foundation for the Carolinas, the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, United Way and the Salvation Army.

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