Coming Together to Feed the Hungry

Jonathan Harris | April 2020

The power of a hot meal is remarkable. It not only delivers nourishment but communicates caring and support in a time of need. Our friend, chef José Andrés, knows this and he has built a dynamic movement called World Central Kitchen to deliver the healing power of hot meals to millions of hungry people around America and the world. 

One example of the power of a hot meal is right here in our hometown of Williamsburg, Virginia. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, our chef, Greg Mincher, who runs the La Tienda Tapas Bar, was forced to shut down and had no work for his staff. It was a time of confusion and fear about the future. This bustling tapas bar was ready for the spring busy season, for people to crowd the patio and enjoy sangría and paella as they admired the blossoming dogwoods and azaleas. Instead the restaurant stood empty. 

But then came a new plan, a new hope for the future. My brother, Tim, put Chef Mincher in contact with our friends at the World Central Kitchen who had spearheaded a movement called #ChefsForAmerica. This program provides support for restaurants across the country, encouraging them to convert into community kitchens. The idea is for the restaurants to offer meals to anyone who is hungry, no matter their ability to pay. WCK provides a framework plan on how to organize meal delivery to those in need in a safe and sanitary way. They also offer much needed funds to help restaurants pay for ingredients and staffing, giving restaurants a lifeline to survive during this difficult time. 

Chef Mincher and his fiancé, MeLaina Ramos, sprang into action. They set up tents and tables in front of the tapas bar along with handmade signage to direct visitors on how to safely pick up hot meals like paella, pinchitos and patatas bravas. The first day 35 people picked up meals, many paying full price and donating extra money to help support the effort. Over the last couple of weeks Chef Greg and his staff have been able to donate dozens of meals to local police, health workers and other essential workers who are keeping us safe and cared for during the pandemic. 

Last week we also heard that superstar musician Pharrell Williams is joining the campaign. The Virginia Beach native has raised over $20 million to support World Central Kitchen’s efforts to feed the hungry and help keep our treasured restaurants afloat. You can read more here.

Online we are also working to support the effort. Since the beginning of the crisis, we have raised over $6,000 in contributions from generous customers on our website to support the efforts of World Central Kitchen to fight hunger in America and across the world. We are also partnering with Cinco Jotas, the renowned maker of Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, to donate 10% of sales of their cured hams and sausages to World Central Kitchen through the end of the month. You can buy Cinco Jotas products to support their campaign to feed those in need and enjoy some of the finest ham in the world at the same time! 

We are humbled to be a small part of the effort to feed our neighbors and those risking their lives to keep us safe and healthy. In a time like this it is easy to be consumed with fear and anxiety. It is so important that we redirect that energy toward ways to come together and provide caring and hope to the most vulnerable among us. We encourage you to find ways to reach out to people in your community to help in any way that you can. 

To contribute to World Central Kitchen, click here.

Jonathan Harris
La Tienda