When disasters strike, access to food is a top priority. With thousands still displaced by the Carr fire near Redding, the volunteer chefs of World Central Kitchen believe canned soup and bologna sandwiches aren’t enough.
In a commercial kitchen in downtown Redding, volunteers are slicing up pans of fresh herbed focaccia bread. Chef Jason Collis is overseeing today’s lunch:
"We’re doing Italian sausage and pepper pasta, with a sun-dried tomato pesto sauce."
Add in the cranberry-almond salad, fresh fruit and focaccia, and you’ve got a meal that’s a far cry from your standard disaster rations. Collis is with World Central Kitchen, a global non-profit network of chefs who believe gourmet-quality food can heal, not only the body, but the soul.
"It brings back memories of grandma’s Italian sausage and peppers. And those little moments there help in a time of need," he says.
Collis runs a catering business in Ventura, California. He says when the massive Thomas fire struck there last winter, he saw the difference good food made in his community. The project is also meant to put cash into the local economy at time when many businesses are disrupted.
"For instance," Collis says, "we’re here at Sizzle’s Kitchen in Redding, and we’re renting the commercial kitchen space from them. We don’t bring in all of our equipment, we purchase from local purveyors.”
The Redding operation is making about 5,000 meals a day that go to Red Cross shelters and to emergency responders on the front line.