How José Andrés Is Helping Floridians In Hurricane Ian's Wake

Over the last several months, World Central Kitchen and its founder José Andrés might have become synonymous with providing humanitarian aid near the front lines of Russia's campaign of aggression against Ukraine. But it's undertaken other campaigns in the past, too. It's proud of being able to serve nutritious meals in areas hit by both natural and man-made disasters, including summer flooding in South Asia, a deadly quake in Afghanistan, and the summer wildfires across Andrés' native Spain. In the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, which devastated homes and businesses "from the Caribbean to Canada," WCK was there to help as well, per World Central Kitchen.

So it should come as no surprise that World Central Kitchen raced to areas in Florida that were devastated by Hurricane Ian, which triggered storm surges as high as 10 feet in Fort Myers and left destruction in its wake, per CNN. Mere hours after Ian passed through, WCK said, "We began distributing sandwiches and cooking hot, nourishing meals at our Relief Kitchen. Additionally, we have built partnerships with restaurants ready to help us scale immediately."

The World Central Kitchen deployment appears to be long-term

The Tampa Bay Times says WCK relief workers began arriving at hard-hit sites along with first responders and drove to wherever they were most needed, and these included Fort Myers Beach, Venice, and Punta Gorda. The organization's director of relief operations, Fiona Donovan, said the WCK's operations there are now being seen as a "long-term response."

The team is focused on handing out fresh, hot meals, and the menu is expected to rely on "the cultural preferences of where we're serving." In Fort Myers and Cape Coral, the foods distributed in the early going have included salads, pasta bolognese, and ham-and-cheese sandwiches. The WCK deployment will have the group's own chefs as well as chefs and volunteers on the ground who will altogether strive to produce an estimated 15,000 cold meals and 10,000 hot ones daily.

José Andrés took to social media where he shared footage from areas devastated by Hurricane Ian as well as some of the first images of what the WCK deployment looked like. He also noted that "we have an amphibious vehicle to be able to reach wherever needed with food, water!" Fellow chef Ming Tsai responded to the call, saying, "Pls support @WCKitchen" In an interesting crossover, one user guessed that the rugged vehicle was "a Ukrainian-made amphibious vehicle SHERP, no less!"