Today, tens of millions of Americans — the most since the Great Depression — are out of work and struggling to put food on the table for their families. The restaurant industry, the nation’s second largest employer, has suffered devastating job and revenue losses.
World Central Kitchen (WCK) has engineered a response that provides fresh and nutritious meals to those in need immediately following a crisis — but this unprecedented cluster of crises in cities across America has inspired a pivot of our traditional relief feeding model. Through Restaurants for the People, WCK is now “employing” restaurants to offer meals to food insecure populations identified by WCK, while also keeping restaurant workers — and indirectly those further down the food supply chain — employed. Since mid-March, WCK has served nearly 28 million meals in 470+ cities across the United States, Spain, Indonesia and the Dominican Republic.
WCK works with restaurants to agree on a price point for each meal, the number of meals they will prepare, and that they will follow strict health and safety regulations. We prioritize small, independent and minority-owned restaurants that have suffered a significant loss of business that threatens their permanent closure.
Meal costs average approximately $10 each, which covers all costs from ingredients and employees to rent and electricity. This guarantees revenue and allows these small businesses to stay operational. This enables restaurants to employ their own workers as well as to continue buying from local food purveyors, who in turn can continue buying from farmers. Before the pandemic, it was estimated that every $1 spent in the restaurant industry contributes more than $2 to a state’s economy, and in these extraordinary circumstances we expect that impact to be even bigger.
Six months after launching Restaurants for the People, WCK has purchased over 10 million meals from small, independent restaurants, funneling more than $105 million back into the economy. The restaurant meals have been delivered to families and individuals most in need of food through this pandemic. Restaurants for the People has been implemented around the country—in over 400 cities across 35 states—including New York, Miami, Oakland, Houston, Atlanta, Seattle, and Chicago.
WCK is grateful for the opportunity to be able to work so closely with so many restaurants across the nation to be able to support the many people in need. Below are some highlights from around the country.
Owner Yvette Leeper-Bueno of Vinatería in Harlem told us: “Working with World Central Kitchen has been absolutely a lifeline for this business. Connecting the dots and making a bridge. Nobody in this America should go hungry—we have the resources.”
Chef Terence, owner of Terra Café in Baltimore, which is now preparing 500 meals each week said, “I already knew we were going to be in trouble when it started. When you guys came, it was life saving.”
“The Tandem's partnership with World Central Kitchen isn't just helping us and our staff of 6,” Caitlin Cullen of The Tandem in Milwaukee shared. “Also, 40 restaurants in Milwaukee that might not survive without the help your funding is providing!”
Similarly, in Oakland, we heard from Chef Oumar Diouf of The Damel: “I want to extend our thanks to you for not only saving our business from closing down but also for helping our great team stay employed. Your generosity reflects our mission statement of nurturing growth and building community. With WCK’s great partnership, The Damel is focusing on ‘thriving and not surviving’.”
With the generous contribution of thousands of donors, WCK has been able to exponentially surpass our original goal of disbursing $10 million back into restaurants. We are grateful to everyone who has supported WCK and our Restaurants for the People program thus far, and to all of those who help make it a reality.