It just goes to show, when America works together, there is nothing they can’t do.
With more than 20,000 National Guard troops flooding into Washington DC in anticipation of President-elect Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, one man has stepped up to help feed this army.
Inside the doors of Jaleo, a Spanish-inspired tapas restaurant that famed chef and humanitarian José Andrés opened in 1993, is the World Central Kitchen — Andrés’ emergency response nonprofit — where workers are busy assembling meals for thousands of troops guarding the city, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Washington has literally become an armed camp overnight in reaction to the pro-Trump mob that on Jan. 6 stormed the US Capitol.
Federal officials are scrambling to catch those responsible for the deadly attacks — five people, including a Capitol police officer, died — and prevent future violence by turning downtown Washington into a fortress, with more than 20,000 National Guard troops and thousands more police and federal agents, the Times reported.
The swiftness of the mobilization resulted in less-than-perfect circumstances for the soldiers, with hundreds of Guard members forced to rest on the marble floors of the US Capitol in between shifts.
World Central Kitchen’s CEO Nate Mook said when he and Andrés saw viral images of the sleeping troops, they felt like they had to do something, the Times reported.
“This is a situation that nobody’s had to face before; it’s being figured out minute by minute,” Mook said. “And we know — because we see this in all types of crises and emergencies — that food can sometimes be an afterthought, and sometimes people are left working long shifts without food.”
So, they reached out to government leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and offered to tap their expertise in feeding large groups of people at a moment’s notice, as they did after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, the Times reported.
The officials took them up on their offer. They started handing out meals Friday night. By Saturday evening, the organization had distributed about 4,000 meals. They planned to repeat the effort Sunday, and don’t plan on halting the special mobilization until Inauguration Day, he said.
In a show of thanks, Pelosi joined Andrés in passing out meals and thanking the troops, who seemed surprised and elated to be getting a free lunch from a famed chef instead of a pre-packaged military meal, the Times reported.
“This is a really difficult time; folks are working long shifts,” Mook said. “They were so happy to get some fresh food to eat.”
Pelosi tweeted that it was her honor to hand out meals “to our heroic National Guard troops who are keeping our Congressional community safe during this difficult time.”
The meals are being paid for by World Central Kitchen, which operates on donations — the government is not paying for the food, the Times reported.
“I know there’s a lot of concern about the Guard. .. but our city & many restaurants are making sure everyone is taken care of!” Andrés tweeted after handing out meals of hot stew Friday night.
He included a video, in which a masked lieutenant in the Pennsylvania National Guard gave thanks to the local community for the support.
“You’ve been going out of your way to take care of us, giving donations, food, coffee, things like that to help support the troops, and we really do appreciate it, guys,” the lieutenant said. “Thank you so much.”
Source: Los Angeles Times, WJLA.com