World Central Kitchen Saves Lives with Food

    04 April 2024

    Seven World Central Kitchen workers died in an Israeli airstrike on April 1 in Gaza. The killings disrupted a flow of badly needed food into Gaza, as international organizations warn of famine.

    World Central Kitchen, an American charity, has grown into one of the world's most recognized food relief organizations. The group, in partnership with the United Arab Emirates, had just delivered a cargo ship with over 360 metric tons of canned goods from Cyprus to Gaza. About 90 metric tons were delivered before the charity suspended operations after the attack. The rest was being taken back to Cyprus, a Cypriot government official said.

    Chef and restaurant owner José Andrés founded World Central Kitchen in 2010. His goal is to provide immediate food relief to disaster areas.

    FILE - Members of World Central Kitchen prepare food for Palestinians, in the location given as Gaza, in this picture released on March 21, 2024 and obtained from social media. (Courtesy of @chefjoseandres via X/via REUTERS)
    FILE - Members of "World Central Kitchen" prepare food for Palestinians, in the location given as Gaza, in this picture released on March 21, 2024 and obtained from social media. (Courtesy of @chefjoseandres via X/via REUTERS)

    The organization gained international recognition for its work in Puerto Rico in 2017 feeding victims of Hurricane Maria. World Central Kitchen also operates in Ukraine and has provided more than 100 million meals to refugees there, the group's website says.

    Andrés has ties to the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden. He serves as co-chair of the President's Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition.

    In a statement Tuesday night, Biden said he had spoken with Andrés to express "condolences for the deaths of these courageous aid workers and to express my continued support for his" organization and its work around the world.

    Biden said Israel was not doing enough to protect aid workers. "This conflict has been one of the worst in recent memory in terms of how many aid workers have been killed," he said.

    The loss of World Central Kitchen will be harm humanitarian efforts in Gaza.

    The killings may also represent a change in Andrés' public view of the Israeli government. On Tuesday, he strongly criticized the Israeli military.

    "The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing. It needs to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon," Andrés wrote on the social media service X.

    His organization blamed the attack on the Israel Defense Forces. He said the military had coordinated over the movement of the cars carrying the workers as they left northern Gaza late Monday.

    Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi is Israel's military chief. He said the strike was "a mistake that followed a misidentification – at night during a war in very complex conditions. It shouldn't have happened."

    Video after the attack showed a vehicle with the charity's name printed across its top to make it identifiable from the air.

    The victims of the attack included three British nationals, an Australian, a Polish national, an American-Canadian dual citizen and a Palestinian, according to hospital records.

    I'm Dan Novak.

    Dan Novak adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reporting by The Associated Press.


    Words in This Story

    famine — n. a situation in which many people do not have enough food to eat

    condolence — n. a feeling or expression of sympathy and sadness especially when someone is suffering because of the death of a family member, a friend, etc.

    courageous — adj. very brave

    indiscriminate — adj. affecting or harming many people or things in a careless or unfair way