World Central Kitchen COVID-19 Response

by World Central Kitchen, Inc.
World Central Kitchen COVID-19 Response

Project Report | Jul 30, 2021
WCK's Pandemic Response

By Daniel Poole | Development Manager

Gloribelle and Walid of Barcha in East Harlem
Gloribelle and Walid of Barcha in East Harlem

In response to the health, economic, and humanitarian impacts of COVID-19, WCK has engineered a model that simultaneously addresses two challenges at once: rising food insecurity and widespread restaurant closures. We have partnered with local, independent, and minority-owned restaurants to prepare meals for populations struggling to access food due to the pandemic. By paying restaurants an average of $10 per meal, WCK has provided guaranteed business and income to cover the cost of ingredients, employee wages, and monthly expenses such as rent and electricity. Since mid-March 2020, WCK has served more than 37 million meals in 410+ cities and partnered with 2,500+ restaurants, putting $162+ million back into the food service industry that has been devastated by the pandemic.

The pandemic paralyzed food relief systems and resulted in long lines at food banks across the country. In addition to traditional forms of meal delivery, we realized we needed an innovative approach. The WCK team piloted a text-to-order program called WCK Direct, which utilizes technology to allow food insecure households to order meals directly for delivery or pick-up from participating restaurants, as opposed to picking up meals from congregate sites. WCK collaborates with our network of community-based organizations to identify households in need. The pre-approved households place orders through our technology platform via text or phone call, choosing which participating restaurant to order meals from and detailing the number of meals needed that day. The restaurant views these orders and schedules deliveries or packages the meals for in-restaurant pick up. 

WCK Direct provides flexibility for families, as they decide what meal they would like, how many, and when they would like them. WCK Direct also creates more opportunities for personal and meaningful interactions when families pick up meals from restaurants. For example, Gloribelle and Walid, owners of partner restaurant Barcha in East Harlem and pictured above, told us, “WCK Direct is a genius idea. It's more than food service. It's more convenient and dignified for them, and resourceful for us. It lets me have a deeper connection with my neighbors one-on-one and a moment to ask, 'How are you? How's the family? What do you need?’”

Since piloting WCK Direct, we have served 125,000+ meals in Chicago, New York City, and Washington, DC. WCK is launching the program in Oakland in the coming weeks and aims to expand to additional cities by the end of the year. With philanthropic support, we can continue to scale WCK Direct. We are grateful for your support of our work, which helps us provide nourishment and comfort to communities in need.

Picking up a meal through WCK Direct
Picking up a meal through WCK Direct
Meal prepared by partner La Adelita de Woodside
Meal prepared by partner La Adelita de Woodside


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Apr 2, 2021
One Year Later: 36 Million Meals and 400+ Cities

By Daniel Poole | Development Manager

Dec 7, 2020
#ChefsForAmerica: Over 8 Months and 33 Million Meals

By Daniel Poole | Development Manager

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Organization Information

World Central Kitchen, Inc.

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @wckitchen
Project Leader:
Daniel Poole
Washington , DC United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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