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José Andrés Criticizes Trump for Poor Response to Food Crisis in Puerto Rico

The chef is on his way to serving 100,000 people a day

José Andrés
Photo: World Central Kitchen / Facebook
Monica Burton is the deputy editor of

At times, it can seem like chef José Andrés and his nonprofit World Central Kitchen are single-handedly feeding Puerto Rico, and lately, it seems Andrés himself feels this way, too. Andrés has been on the island since September 26 to respond to the humanitarian crisis Hurricane Maria left in its wake. For weeks, the Washington, D.C.-based chef has chronicled his progress on Twitter, providing frequent updates on new kitchen builds and the number of people served, but yesterday, his tweets took on a more frustrated tone.

Andrés is directly calling out the government for its lack of response. In a tweet, he refers to FEMA as “the most inefficient place on earth” and says the government organization is “leaving the people of Puerto Rico hungry and thirsty.”

From under heavy rain outside the the Coliseo in San Juan, a dismayed Andrés says that World Central Kitchen reached more than 80,000 people yesterday, but flooding has been a problem. Andrés says the rain “is breaking my heart,” but the “good news” is that people will have the rain water to drink, because, as he goes on to imply, the government isn’t helping on that front.

“The only thing I have in common with President Trump is that, yes, in some instances, government institutions should be smaller,” Andrés says. “But, they need to be, above all, efficient. More people doesn’t equal better help and support. Right people means better care and support.”

Earlier yesterday, according to another video from Andrés, World Central Kitchen volunteers had trouble getting bread, ham, and cheese and so were 10,000 meals short of their goal, but they made a pasta bolognese to make up the difference. Soon, #ChefsForPuertoRico will have five active kitchens around the island’s perimeter, and Andrés expects them to activate another three by the weekend, allowing the operation to finally serve 100,000 people daily.

Although Andrés is pleased with the efforts of World Central Kitchen and the more than 400 volunteers that have jumped into action, he wishes they could do more. “We could be doing half a million [meals],” he says in the video above. “Sometimes the federal government is not here to serve the people that they are supposed to serve.”

Andrés held a press conference on the food crisis in Puerto Rico this morning, where he further detailed his plan to feed the people in Puerto Rico with resources on the island and continued to criticize FEMA. “The first disaster was natural. The second disaster was manmade by clear lack of leadership,” he says.

Earlier this week, Andrés announced that World Central Kitchen would need to move on soon, which makes his call for effective government action all the more urgent.

@chefjoseandres [Twitter]
José Andrés Has Served Over 350,000 Meals in Puerto Rico [E]