Chefs have also been visiting the famine-stricken area to promote relief efforts.

Elisabeth Sherman
August 31, 2017

The United States will give $91 million in food aid to Ethiopia in an effort to avert famine in the southeast of the country, Reuters reports. The aid will “provide additional emergency food assistance and vital medical care" U.S. aid chief Mark Green said after meeting with the country’s prime minister. Since June, the government has faced concerns that it would run out food for the approximately eight million people affected by the drought, which has also hit Kenya, Somalia, Yemen, and Nigeria.

Ethiopia has faced severe droughts before: Once in the eighties and again in 2011. Since 2000, chef and co-founder of Red Rooster Marcus Samuelsson, who is Ethiopian, has served as a UNICEF ambassador. In 2011, he began raising awareness about country’s famine by encouraging other prominent chefs to donate to relief efforts; the same year he cooked two private dinners which were auctioned off at the UNICEF Snowflake Ball, proceeds of which went to the organization's own relief efforts.

With drought and famine a chronic issue in Ethiopia, a YouTube series called #Whatfoodmeans has sent several chefs, including Danish Chef Mikkel Karstad, Polish chef Anna Starmach, and Italian chef Simone Rugiati, to Ethiopia with the World Food Programme, to learn more about the food culture there.

The chefs cook meals with Ethiopian people and help distribute humanitarian aid to those in need while sharing the stories of families who have benefited from continued assistance from European countries. In one such case, an Ethiopian woman named Teiken tells Simone Rugiati that aid donated to the area this year has allowed her to buy her children clothes and send them to school.  

Aid programs like those in Europe and this recent effort spearheaded by the U.S. seem to be offering some much-needed relief to a country that has been suffering too long without enough to eat. As Starmach observes in one of the videos, “For them, food means life.”