The Washington Nationals and Michelin star chef José Andrés are partnering to turn Nationals Park into a community kitchen to help feed the hungry through World Central Kitchen. Tuesday marked the first day that the stadium re-opened during what was supposed to be the 2020 MLB season.
According to a release, Nationals Park is uniquely suited to large-scale food production and is located in the heart of an at-risk community. The Nationals worked with their landlord, Events DC, to obtain permission to have several kitchens within the ballpark available for use by World Central Kitchen.
“We didn’t have Opening Day, but I think all the Nationals fans they should be proud,” José Andrés, a DC native, said in a video. “This is like Opening Day. Today we open the stadium to feed those in need and that we all should be so proud. Thank you again, Nationals.”
Tuesday was the first day of operations and 1,000 meals were produced and distributed. Once fully ramped up, José Andrés expects his team to produce tens of thousands of meals for the hungry every day.
We may not have had @MLB opening day…but today we are opening @Nationals Park to feed our communities in need! Thank you to the Lerner family & @Nats4Good for helping make this happen. @WCKitchen is already cooking & will be here as long as we are needed… #ChefsForAmerica pic.twitter.com/gZWFEJ37cZ
— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) April 7, 2020
Here’s what Andrés had to say in full via a video he posted on Twitter.
So I couldn’t be any happier to be here today, Nationals Stadium and World Central Kitchen. I want to thank everyone involved, especially the Lerner family.
We’ve used stadiums and arenas before, they’re so important. They’re part of the community in good times but they’re also an important part of the community in emergency times. So inside here we’re using the kitchens. We’re going to be producing tens of thousands of meals – whatever Washington DC, the mayor needs. Whatever the metropolitan area, Virginia, and Maryland needs. From this kitchen, we’ll be able to respond to any major emergency if it happens.
We have a big kitchen in New York serving different parts there. We’re talking about another one in Minnesota. So this is a mix of big kitchens that we can produce a lot with very little people. Enough space to have distance between each other and also logistics for deliveries all across DC, Maryland, and Virginia. And also having strategically small kitchens across many cities across America to make sure we’re able to cover small needs in neighborhoods in elderly homes, covering the needs of homeless, covering the needs of people with immune system [problems] through deliveries, through different systems that you love and you already know and are already a part of the system.
This becomes very important because thanks to the Nationals now we have proof that centralizing the response, we can be taking care of one city at a time in terms of emergency.
Thank you again to everybody – to my beloved of the Nationals. Everybody should be so proud.
Andrés, a longtime fan of the Nationals, threw out the first pitch before Game Five of the World Series. Before making his pitch, Andrés did the Baby Shark chomp towards the Nationals dugout.
The free meals will be distributed using World Central Kitchen and Nationals Philanthropies (the new name for the team’s philanthropic arm) community partners working in the neighborhoods surrounding the ballpark and the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.
The Nationals have been in the food insecurity space for several years. Its programming at the Youth Baseball Academy provides meals to our scholar-athletes, a weekly free/reduced fee fresh produce market for the community, community cooking and nutrition classes, and a community garden.
Nationals Park also partners with Nourish Now to distribute food from our kitchen at the end of every homestand to local low-income families.
Photos via the Nationals
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