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All We Can Eat
Posted at 02:40 PM ET, 10/29/2012

Feeding the poor and homeless during Hurricane Sandy


Who says celebrity chefs don't work the line? Jose Andres was on duty in the D.C. Central Kitchen on Monday, ahead of Frankenstorm Sandy. (Michael Curtin)
Hurricane Sandy may wreak havoc with your dinner plans if the Frankenstorm causes widespread power outages, as expected. You may have to resort to campfire cooking over the family hearth or survive on whatever ready-to-eat meals you have in the house.

For Washington’s homeless and hungry, the proposition of eating during the storm is far more complicated.

A number of organizations that normally serve these populations are closed today. Among them are Capital Area Food Bank, Bread for the City and Martha’s Table. Other groups, however, are operating on a limited capacity to bring food and shelter to those who frequently have neither.

“We absolutely will continue to provide food during the storm just as we did during the blizzards a couple years ago,” said Michael Curtin, chief executive of D.C. Central Kitchen, which provides between 2,500 and 2,700 meals a day to 10 area shelters including La Casa, New York Avenue and Open Door.

“We have a crew of people that could make it down here today working to prepare ‘double’ meals that we plan to get out to the shelters and agencies that are open this afternoon,” Curtin continued, via e-mail. “We are prepping shelf-stable meals for the shelters that do not have refrigeration and cooking facilities so that they will be set at least through tomorrow. ”

As it did during Snowmageddon in 2010, DCCK has arranged hotel rooms for some production and transportation employees so they can start cooking foods and driving them to area shelters again tomorrow, Curtin said. Celebrity chef Jose Andres, a longtime supporter (and chair emeritus) of DCCK, showed up to lend a hand at the organization’s kitchens.

This morning, crews were preparing a seafood Creole with a garden salad and vegetables on the side. They were packing some PB&J sandwiches for tomorrow as well, along with apples and juices. “We’re also working on a curried pumpkin pasta dish that will go to some of the agencies,” Curtin said.

Over at the Central Union Mission at 1350 R St. NW, the administrative offices were closed, but the emergency shelter for men was to remain open.

“We will shelter and feed men in place until the storm has passed,” executive director David O. Treadwell wrote in an e-mail to supporters. “If needed and as space allows, we will shelter as many men as possible within the limits of safe capacity for our R Street facility. Should we reach overflow capacity, we will work with the District of Columbia Emergency Services to find suitable shelter for those we cannot accommodate.”

Reached by phone, Deborah Chambers, director of communications and outreach for Central Union, said the organization has food and water available — on a first-come, first-served basis — to those who need them.

“We have a large supply,” she said, “and are ready to distribute as long as supplies are available.” The supplies are open to all: men, women and even neighbors who have lost power during the storm. They must show up at the R Street facility to pick up the food and water.

Some agencies suggest that you contact them Tuesday to see whether they have reopened. You can search DCfoodfinder.org for emergency supplies and free meals in your area. This is assuming, of course, that you have power and access to a computer: two big fat assumptions in the coming hours for those who live on the margins of life.

Further reading:

* What D.C. travelers need to know during Hurricane Sandy

* Updates from the Capital Weather Gang

* Hurricane Sandy: latest news

By  |  02:40 PM ET, 10/29/2012

 
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