1:00 pm EDT
World Central Kitchen’s Chief Executive Officer, Nate Mook, and Assemblyman Michael Blake of New York State’s 79th District spoke to the Concordia Community about their ongoing partnership designed to provide fresh food to those in need amidst the outbreak of COVID-19.
World Central Kitchen (WCK) is a non-profit organization founded by chef José Andrés. It works in the United States and abroad to support food and emergency supply systems during times of natural and manmade disasters. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, WCK has provided relief to quarantined cruise ship passengers and crew members by cooking and delivering hot and cold meals, in addition to partnering with school districts and emergency housing sites in LA, and establishing community distribution sites in NY.
WCK has partnered with the Office of Assemblyman Michael Blake to provide relief to The Bronx, where the coronavirus death rate is two times that of New York City and three times that of Manhattan. Assemblyman Blake cited the underlying “pandemic” of poverty across The Bronx as reasoning for the disproportionately disastrous outcomes, and both he and Mook reinforced that low-income communities are often the hardest hit in times of disaster due to poor systems and less economic resiliency.
COVID-19 will require a long-term response in communities like The Bronx and around the United States. This partnership is thus aimed at not only offering immediate relief services, but also providing economic opportunities to The Bronx community by reopening multiple restaurants, capitalizing on the synergy of the availability of food, a restaurant’s ability to hire employees, and this initiative’s ability to distribute food efficiently.
The conversation presented advice on the importance of connected and informed implementation partners. Some organisations, such as WCK, have the unique value of a platform and reputation, which proves to expedite the partnership process. However, one is still able to form partnerships without these helpful tools. Ultimately, for partnerships to be effective, organizations have to equally value donors and implementation outlets. Even with adequate funding, a partnership will falter without local implementation and logistics capacity. The community insight and channels that Assemblyman Blake’s office provided have been pivotal for this partnership’s success.
As a result of the initial partnership’s success, this initiative has rapidly developed within a single month, serving food daily across more than 61 sites within The Bronx. Its impact has spurred additional initiatives, including The Bronx Community Relief Fund, which was launched to address the immediate needs of The Bronx community amid the COVID-19 crisis and to fill gaps in public and grant financing. Assemblyman Blake used the webinar to announce a $3 million donation to the Bronx Community Relief Fund from the James and Judith K Dimon Foundation, while also bringing attention to the ways in which the audience can contribute to this and other WCK efforts.