Across the Country, Top Chefs Join Initiative to Feed Furloughed Workers
It’s now week five of the government shutdown, and on Friday, furloughed federal workers missed their second paycheck since it began on December 22. For the 800,000-plus people affected, the financial strain grows increasingly dire —but even before the shutdown went into effect, chefs like José Andrés were ready to help out, as previously reported by Food & Wine. What started as a pop-up restaurant run by Andrés’s World Central Kitchen in Washington D.C. has quickly grown into a national movement—dubbed #ChefsForFeds—as more chefs and restaurateurs join forces to provide federal workers with free meals. Rick Bayless, Edward Lee, Ming Tsai, Ludo Lefebvre and more have participating restaurants; on Thursday, Emeril Lagasse tweeted that Nola Restaurant would be joining the movement as well.
World Central Kitchen recently tweeted that #ChefsForFeds is now providing free hot meals in 17 states across the U.S., plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Whether at Sweetgreen in New York City (all locations) or Stephanie Izard’s Little Goat Diner in Chicago, government workers need only show their federal ID upon arrival in order to get a free meal. Even food trucks, like the SoCal Comfort Food Trucks in Ventura, California are participating—you can check out the full list on World Central Kitchen's site.
"We feed people of all parties," Andrés previously told Food & Wine. "We opened a kitchen because right now we have workers who are in pain...I’m a guy that believes in building longer tables, not higher walls. I have friends of both parties, and when we are around the table, somehow, everybody knows where to find common ground. And we respect each other, and that’s the way it should be—in America or anywhere around the world. If anybody’s hungry, we will be there."
Andrés hopes that, by Monday, 1,000 restaurants will be participating across the country.
Separate of #ChefsForFeds, others are getting involved in helping furloughed federal workers, too. White Castle announced Thursday that on Tuesday, January 29, federal workers could show up to any location and receive a free Combo Meal (#1-6) or any Breakfast Combo Meal. Meanwhile, Connecticut-based chef Tyler Anderson (of Top Chef season 15) started a program on Tuesday that allows federal employees affected by the shutdown to have "house accounts" at three of his restaurants—Millright's, The Cook & The Bear, and Porrón&Piña—which they can pay back once their paychecks resume. On Friday, Anderson met with Connecticut Congressman John B. Larson at Bar Piña to discuss a meal plan payback program, according to a statement. With no end to the shutdown in sight, more chefs and brands are likely to support the effort to help furloughed workers, whether they join the official #ChefsForFeds roster or act independently.