Chef José Andrés Receives $100 Million Grant In Surprise Announcement Following Blue Origin Landing
“I have a little surprise for you,” newly-minted space traveler Jeff Bezos said at what seemed to be the end of his press conference following the successful inaugural Blue Origin flight.
Having answered reporters’ questions about his plans for the future of space tourism and scaling the cost of space travel, the former Amazon CEO said he had a new announcement.
Bezos introduced the “Courage and Civility Award,” a grant recognizing “leaders who aim high, pursue solutions with courage and always do so with civility.” The award, a $100 million grant for non-profit work, was aimed at “unifiers, not vilifiers,” Bezos said.
The first two recipients are CNN commentator Van Jones, who is also the founder of the racial justice non-profit Dream Corps and celebrity chef José Andrés, the founder of World Central Kitchen.
Andrés has long been recognized for linking his love of cooking with humanitarian projects.
At the start of the pandemic, as restaurants across the U.S. closed and left many out of work, World Central Kitchen paid restaurants to feed communities in need, as well as provide meals for frontline workers. According to World Central Kitchen, the non-profit has funneled over $140 million back into local economies and worked with over 400 cities in 35 states. Globally, World Central Kitchen estimates it has served over 35 million meals as part of their COVID response program.
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Most recently, WCK was present at sites in Germany dealing with flooding and at the building collapse in Surfside, Florida.
“World Central Kitchen was born from the simple idea that food has the power to create a better world,” a visibly moved Andrés said at the press conference. “A plate of food is a plate of hope.”
“This award itself cannot feed the world on its own but this is the start of a new chapter for us,” the Spanish-born chef said. “It will allow us to think beyond the next hurricane to the biggest challenges we face.”
The $100 million grant is, according to Bezos, no-strings attached, meaning that Jones and Andrés can spend it as they wish on either their own non-profit or on other organizations.
“Now is the time to think really big, to solve hunger with the first urgency of now,” Andrés said. “The only thing we want to do is revolutionize disaster and hunger relief. People don’t want our pity. They want our respect. The least we can do is be next to them when things get tough.”
Andrés, who says he plans to double food aid around the world, is motivated the thousands impacted by the pandemic. He hopes to tackle the root causes of world hunger, he says.
“I believe in longer tables not higher walls,” the chef said. “Let’s feed the world.”