Feeding Ourselves Our Way (With Chef José Andrés)

Show Description

Baratunde learns about mutual aid and local, distributed approaches to feeding ourselves during this time of crisis. José Andrés, chef, humanitarian, and founder of World Central Kitchen, speaks about the power of food to build community, and his belief that we can indeed feed ourselves with dignity in this moment if we have the political will to do so. Two representatives of the LA Community Fridge movement tell us about how neighbors are feeding neighbors and learning more about each other in the process.  While COVID has exposed the fragility of so many systems including how we eat, we look at two approaches to feeding ourselves that are largely outside the realm of government action and funding, both anchored by local community action, and provide new ways to address the food crisis in America.

Show Notes & Actions

Show Transcript

Baratunde Thurston  0:06  

Welcome to How to Citizen with Baratunde, a show where we reimagine the word citizen as a verb. Reclaim it from those who weaponized it and remind ourselves how to wield our collective power. I'm Baratunde.

Like a healthy democracy, this show is stronger with your participation. And we have a number of ways for you to do that. in public, use the hashtag #howtocitizen when you post about the show on social media, and I'll share out some of your stories, to communicate with us directly. Send feedback and ideas to comments at and if you've taken the actions we recommend at the end of each episode, share those with us by emailing action at We've been moved by what you shared from the episode So far, and look forward to more into building future episodes with you and your actions. And finally, what kind of podcast host would I be if I didn't ask you to rate and review the show? The fact that you're listening right now makes you very qualified to offer a legitimate and authentic rating or review. So please take a moment to do that. We appreciate it. Now, a word on how we make this show. We record most of these shows live in zoom with a studio audience cameras on chat room lit up, and we take questions from you for our guests. I'd love to have you join for a future taping. Visit and join my email list for the invites and my amazing weekly emails. I'm the best emailer. While I love the live audience, don't worry. I'll catch up with just you on the other side of this conversation where I'll give you some really specific ways to citizen for this episode. In the meantime, I'm going to handle mic to myself, as I set up the conversation with our amazing guests. COVID-19 is a truth serum and whether we like it or not, it reveals the fragility of so many of our systems, housing policing, how many zooms one human can take a day? I think the answer is for on that last one. One area of acute vulnerability that COVID has exposed is our access to food. We've got farmers burning crops and warehouses of strawberries rotting, because we aren't in business as usual. We've seen the miles long images of people going to food banks. But rising to these challenges are restaurants, chefs and communities who are figuring out new ways to involve everyone in productively feeding ourselves and our neighbors. In this episode, we look at two approaches that exists largely outside the realm of government, but well within the realm of people. Power. Although they differ in several ways, both are anchored by people committed to local community action as the way to address the food crisis in America. I sat down with Chef Jose Andres to hear what he and his organization world central kitchen, have learned about tapping into the resources and needs at the local level, to help communities help themselves across the US and around the world. But before we go global with Jose, I realized there was a model in my own backyard, right in Los Angeles. Back in July, a friend had texted me about something called the LA community fridge, a network of decentralized independent refrigerators and pantries that provide food and vital supplies to communities through mutual aid. It may have started in New York City, but now these fridges are popping up all over the country. It's basically a set of public refrigerators, usually hosted by a local business like gross Restore restaurant, a bodega, and it's stocked, used and maintained by people in the neighborhood. And they coordinate by every means they've got WhatsApp groups, slack groups, conference calls, printed paper signs and forms. I sat down with two la community fridge volunteers, Caitlin and Leanna. To learn more.

I'm curious for each of you how you initially got involved in the community fridge project.

Liana  4:36  

I think I remember in June I had some friends contact me and asked me if I wanted to be involved in this. They had seen the New York group in our hearts, their community fridge efforts and been like, you know, we should do this here. La is so dense with people. This is something we definitely need. And I had never really heard of community fridges before, but I was like, okay, I've got time on end. Like, this seems like something that's relatively easy to do. And, you know, it's gonna benefit so many people.

Katelan Cunningham,  5:08  

Yeah, so it's very hyperlocal and community driven. I had mentioned that like, when I came into the community, I was already kind of looking into restaurants. But people kind of come to us at any stage. Some people come to us after they've already set up a fridge. And they've already picked a host. And they've already used all the resources that had been built, and taken it upon themselves to do all these things and get things set up. But I think that's kind of one of the main goals is to give everyone the resources they need so they can do whatever they're able to do. So if they want to hop in, and they want to find a host, and that's kind of like the amount that they're willing to put in. That's totally fine. And then as far as who's stocking them. We try to encourage folks whenever they start a fridge to get like a cohort of people who kind of agree to go by the fridge at least every day to clean it to keep an eye on it to keep it stocked and I feel like After the ball gets rolling with it, and the community really adopts it, it kind of runs on its own to a certain extent, of course, like things need to be cleaned and everything. But we have a slack behind the scenes where we're able to keep in touch with each other and kind of let each other know like someone just reported that the fridge really dirty. Can someone go hop over there and take a look at it?

Baratunde Thurston  6:19  

Take me through that very elementary step of getting one of these bridges going.

Liana  6:23  

We do have a lot of resources on our link tree, about how to find potential hosts, I think we did make a fridge checklist like Oh, you want to start your own fridge to make it very easy for people because that is ultimately the goal is like we're not trying to do everything and oversee every fridge in LA. It's like anyone can do this. It's definitely a collective effort. And

Katelan Cunningham,  6:51  

one of the common questions is like, well, how much does electricity cost? It costs about 30 bucks a month. And most of the hosts I think all of our hosts are like paying that you know on their own Most of them are like markets and restaurants. There are some anomalies there, the community centers and things like that. Are these all the same community? Are they distinct populations? What is the community around the community fridge look like? The goal is for it to be kind of like all things to all people, right is for all of us to be able to use it and especially to get even more hyper focus from the word community like neighborhood based. So what does that neighborhood need? Like an unhoused person can't really use uncooked rice but a small family might be able to use uncooked rice and like what is the community of people that that fridge is serving? And how can we best serve those people? Yeah, the people who are in the slack for updating and stuff, there's like different channels for each fridge and we keep each other updated, like oh, you know, vegetables aren't really moving at this fridge will redistribute it somewhere else or people will put it food preference so it's, you know, more of a grab and go kind of meal but it's, you know, it's definitely a learning curve. And I think another thing is when someone gets something done, they bring it to the group, we have weekly meeting every Monday. And so you're kind of like, Hey, I made this thing. What do you all think about it? How can you be better? What did I think of this just like what Leanna said, like, you kind of just skip ahead and do the thing if you think people need it, and then be very willing and open to accept feedback to make it the most usable for the most people.

Baratunde Thurston  8:21  

I'd love you to explain more of this term mutual aid, as the model that you are using to deliver this service as opposed to operating a formal charity. What's the difference? And why have you chosen to model yours on this design of mutual aid?

Katelan Cunningham,  8:41  

Well, one of the things I think is actually kind of connected to hierarchy. Typically, with charities, you have people with more money, giving money to people who don't have the money, and so they're sort of controlling what they think other people want or making decisions for what they think other people want. And so that hierarchy and that Power, it just never quite feels right. It doesn't quite feel like you're really servicing people and helping people in the way that they need. So one thing about the mutual aid, the way that that's organized is the lack of hierarchy really helps with that it kind of empowers you to take on the thing that you think needs to be done and to best service the folks who you're trying to help. I think another distinction too, is that we don't collect any money. And I mean, this was like a fridge specific thing, but like, the food is the currency like that is the thing that we're trying to empower folks with. So we actually tried to like actively avoid anyone giving us any money, because then it just becomes a different project. I think that just becomes a different type of organization. So whenever folks want to help or like go get food and put it in the fridge, that's the best way that you can possibly help but the fridge is or sometimes will default to not asking for money in other ways. For example, if we need someone to help with maintenance with their fridges, we don't say like, Hey, can you give us money? We need to repair some bridges. We say hey, You know how to repair a fridge and we get a bunch of folks in and they can help us but

Baratunde Thurston  10:03  

you cut out the middle party in this case, money money. Yeah, exactly. As the medium.

Unknown Speaker  10:09  

Yeah, things get done a lot more quickly.

Baratunde Thurston  10:12  

Yeah, yeah, I knew money was the problem. I know it. I know, it's all done. There's been some criticism of this model, from people in the food justice community who see these fridges as not sustainable, or as not truly meeting the needs of the people who are pulling from the fridge in the same way. And they read it still as a charitable model of those with more time or more resources, maybe more access to slack, delivering unto people who don't, how do you respond to that criticism or other criticism you've received of your approach?

Liana  10:46  

It's not only people who are on Slack, and I do think that there is a big need and they are feeding a lot of people. There's a fridge that set up pretty close to me and I was talking to one of the people who lives at the place that's hosting it and she He was saying that some cleaning ladies on their way to work will like deep clean the fridge like once or twice a week with their supplies and stuff. And it's like, they obviously are not on Slack, they're on Instagram, they're probably not like in tune, but it's like they're on the ground and they see it in front of them and they want to care and help the, you know, other members of their community. So those are the people who are also leaving food, but maybe taking something that they need, you know, it's give and take, and I think it definitely benefits everyone and I want to see a lot of these bridges around because there's so much food, so much food waste, and everyone needs to eat.

Baratunde Thurston  11:39  

What has surprised each of you, as you become a part of this effort.

Katelan Cunningham,  11:44  

One of the things that I found really surprising, I don't know if surprising the right word but exciting. Whenever we had first started the East Hollywood bridge in July was the first few days what you saw was a lot of people taking a lot of things because they're used to living in this scarcity mentality. I mean, if you, I think we all we all sort of had this happen to us at the beginning of the pandemic, where you went to the grocery store, you're like, I guess we're never eating beans ever again, like, you're just like, I guess there's just no more beans in the world. So of course, as soon as they get beans like you take way more than you need, because you don't know when they're going to have that thing again, you know. And so what was really exciting was after that first week of constantly, really adamantly refilling the fridge, it just sort of like created a flow and a system to where you didn't see as many people like grabbing so many things, because they trusted that something was going to be there the next day. So I wouldn't say that was surprising, but it was like, very interesting and memorable connection to make up my own head, especially at the time of COVID when we were all kind of like experiencing that in different ways. So just this understanding that, you know, people take more than they need when they don't know how long they're going to have to need it. You know,

Liana  12:52  

I think something that's been surprising for me is just how many nice and sweet people live all over la like Whether it's people who help with the fridges or people who use the fridges and you run into, it's so nice to just meet people and like, have genuine conversations with people who care, especially like in this weird time where you're only seeing people's eyes, everyone's wearing a mask. But yeah, I love the just the little connections that you make. And not surprisingly, because that's not something I thought would come along with this.

Baratunde Thurston  13:23  

How have you managed conflict in operating this network of fridges?

Katelan Cunningham,  13:28  

We have these common resources, these documents that are like this is our value statement. And this is how we choose a host. And we all agree upon those documents. And so you sort of set these guidelines up front and empower people to work within those guidelines. And of course, if you feel like there's an issue with a certain guideline, then you bring it to the meeting. But I think that that kind of helps move things along a little bit more quickly.

Baratunde Thurston  13:51  

So you wrote a constitution and then strive to live up to it. Yes. In the same vein, how are you dealing with local authorities who may have have different ideas about how to regulate these.

Katelan Cunningham,  14:03  

We've had a few fridges that have had some of those issues. One a few of them were cited by the city for health violations or just city code. To me it seems like police are just using any thing to write it up because we had a fridge in Compton and it got shut down by authorities they said it couldn't be out there the violation was like leaving machinery that's broken outside and obviously it's like plugged in running there's food in it. And then like they bought it and they ended up starting the fridge back up again but then somebody cut the cord and it's like still sitting there empty but since it hasn't been running and sitting there empty which actually that is breaking, you know the code. They haven't been written up at all. So it's to me it seems like police are picking and choosing our city. You know, officials are picking and choosing but we have had to like remove a fridge because Don't want the businesses that are hosting to get cited, obviously. And then the example that Leanna gave my understanding is that several different city officials at different levels interacted with the fridge. They all like didn't really speak to each other. So it definitely seems like there's an inconsistency and kind of like, what the discrepancy is there for sure. But obviously, food health and safety is very critical, which is why it is so critical to have a clean fridge all the time, and to take dirty stuff out of it whenever you see dirty stuff in it. And I just think that that really just comes with frequency and I think the healthiest fridge is one where the food doesn't stay in it for longer than six hours anyway, which is kind of what the East Hollywood fridge Yes, it's like nothing's there for diff is there today will absolutely be gone tomorrow.

Baratunde Thurston  15:44  

What lessons would you share with someone who wants to work in their neighborhood for mutual aid?

Liana  15:51  

I feel like the biggest lesson that I've learned that kind of does connect to this is like the more people on hand, the more people who use Have to help. The more connections you make, the easier everything is. You don't want a few people, overworking, putting so much time. Like, if there's a lot of people, everything works more smoothly, and there's a lot more support for maintaining the fridges and getting everything together.

Katelan Cunningham,  16:20  

Yeah, I would agree with that, I think likely. And so we have a ton of resources that folks can use, so they don't have to start from scratch. And I believe that we adopted some of those resources from New York as well. So I think we're all kind of like learning as we go and adapting as we go. But I think often, when we have people come into the group solutions to problems look like policing in a way or like trying to control a situation, it might be like, oh, people are abusing the fridge after hours, we should lock the fridge after hours. And so I think one thing I've learned just like as a human being is that how do you provide resources so that folks can have what they need. That's like literally what the whole fridge model is there for so we're always Kind of instead of saying like, how do we cut this off? How do we make boundaries around this? We're always trying to make it bigger. We're always trying to help people with what they need. So we've had conversations about fridges being more than just fridges about people perhaps bringing like clothes to donate and things like that. So rather than just immediately cutting it off and say, okay, we don't accept clothes saying like, Alright, how do we make clothes work? Let's give this a shot. Let's put a clothing rack there. Let's see if people tend to it let's see how that works. So I think always defaulting what is the improv saying, like always defaulting to Yes, yes and right. It's like yes. And it's a very like yes and community to sort of get people what they need and see what the right solution is because it's kind of breaking a lot of rules to start so like, why create more rules when we could give people the things that they say that they need.

Baratunde Thurston  17:55  

The story of the local cleaning ladies regularly cleaning the community fridge in their name, neighborhood on the way to work that struck a chord with me. That's a sign of ownership. They see value in these bridges and they feel invested enough to contribute with their own time and skills. At the end of this episode, we'll share ways you can support or even start your own community fridge. For right now, let's go to our conversation with Chef Jose Andres. We are hungry. Can you take me back to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico?

José Andrés  18:35  

I was inside the FEMA headquarters in the room where we're supposed to be the room worry happens where it was supposed to be deciding how many people were hungry, who was going to do it. And after listening to the powers to be almost for an hour, I realized that was not plan I realized that everybody was finger pointing at somebody else or responsibilities. I realized that everybody was trying us to do it. Together, I realized that many of these people, they didn't even move from that big Convention Center. And if you're not moving away from the convention center, how do you really know what's happening across the island? And that moment, I realized, we began already by then doing close to 10,000 meals a day. We never said no to anybody that as for food, so that's why we went from 10 friends, three days after the hurricane, a whole bunch of shelves that there responded to my WhatsApp saying, I'm here. And then I'm here meant I'm here. Let's cook together. We went from 10 friends to more than 25,000 men and woman volunteers. Puerto Ricans fed Puerto Ricans, we went from one kitchen to two Six went from thousand meals the first day 250,000 meals a day. We did almost 4 million meals even we did millions more. Because we were able to give ideas to others about what to do. How does

Baratunde Thurston  20:17  

world Central Kitchen operate? And how different is that from some of these other organizations? You mentioned the Red Cross FEMA.

José Andrés  20:27  

We are different because nothing is more powerful than the local community. Why? Because nobody knows best, but the community needs this mentality that the people come in from the outside and they are telling the locals what they need. Versus as chatting up and listening more to them what they really need. This is us. One of the main difference that was central kitchen does obviously in an emergency. People are shocked and be a horrible Can't be earthquake, a typhoon a fires. And yes, you need to come from the outside and trying to create certain systems to start, in our case feeling. We don't plan we don't meet, we put boots on the ground and we start feeling in the process of feeding what really we're doing is gathering intelligence. In the process of fitting what really we know. It's what's happening one community at a time, in the process of feeding, locals began joining us. In the process of feeding we create an army of good in the process of fitting we have information that other people sitting down in the comfort of their headquarters don't have. And at the end as well, we do we put boots on the ground, and we start providing food and water. In the process. We increase until there is no more need. In the process. We learn what other end users are doing. If we saw others doing we tried to partner PDL one a partner, that's fine, we keep seeing. So we don't leave anybody behind. Um, what we do better than anybody is that we go to the Forgotten places, to the Forgotten neighborhoods. Or sometimes police tells you don't go there because he's too dangerous to go. And you know where to learn those places that are too dangerous to go. You bring hope through food and water and un playing with the kids basketball, or you and helping an elderly person move to a more safe location. And that those places that somehow they tell us they are dangerous, because he's used, I don't know, a different part of town. You learn that there is not danger, that the only danger we face is not knowing people that live in our own cities in our own communities and not listening to their needs. Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the size of the help needed? And if so, how did you work through that does the stress of a restaurant kitchen help you work through the stress of an overwhelming public need in the face of disaster? I think that moment that for me was crazy, is when I saw the images of Katrina, and especially in the Superdome. And this is something I get him playing in my head. I wish I could go back in time. Be there right before Katrina he No, like we want to go through and try to do more good to the people that suffer in an unnecessary way by not being ready for them. What happened in the Superdome alone? was never supposed to happen. Many Americans alone in a stadium with no food, no water, no basic sanitation. Imagine if we were there a group of cooks you know what I study means you know what an arena is? an arena people have it wrong. There's not a music venue. It's not a sports venue. He said gigantic restaurant that entertains with a sports and musician.

Baratunde Thurston  23:59  

I just got to ask That's a very chef centric view of an arena. I love it.

José Andrés  24:05  

And at the end of the day if we were able to do that, to put all the food vendors out there up and running the food spots, I bring few of my friends chefs, we get some of the volunteers there. And we start organizing us by feeding people and bringing them water and hope. And then we bring everything else but you see the big problems they have very simple solution.

Baratunde Thurston  24:28  

Can you talk briefly about like, what food is to you in terms of its connection to security, its connection to community. Why is food special?

José Andrés  24:40  

Well, for this is special because we are highly attached to our mothers. And in a way one of the things that creates this amazing bond beyond that she's been carrying all of us for nine months is that within hours of being born, our mother or father they are feeding as needed. This is a link that forever He's not forgotten, even if we were highly aware of the moment. If I could go back one second in my life, we love to go on being a word mom and my mother and me. This makes for being this kind of powerful way of saying for the equals comfort for the cost somebody that loves you, for the equals home, for the equals family, for the equals safety is beyond the physical need. So that's why he's so important. We don't think deep enough about it. But I do believe that link, I wish I could prove the theory. And maybe one day we can if we can travel back to the past. And at the end of the day, you think about it, unfortunately, more ways than one. boys like me were the ones that are always giving praise or having the best restaurants and feeding our CDs and the most luxurious sport. But if you think for a second and you go around the world And you stop. And you go to Mozambique or Haiti or Peru or, you know, you're not who feeds the one woman who feeds the world, not only because they feed us all the mothers when we born, but beyond that, who is really feeding the world are always woman in every corner in every street. They're the ones feeding the people of the world. So why food is important? Breanna Moran, the French philosopher in 1826, that tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are, yes, for this, who we are. And he said another phrase that was even more important. He said the destiny of the nation will depend on how they feed themselves, so forth, is essential for human life, but is much deeper than that. Give us hope, of a better tomorrow. Give us a sense of community give a sense of peace. Give a sense of things are okay. That's why we must defend the right of every child in America and around the world to have access to food that empowers them to achieve every dream that a young boy or girl to have.

Baratunde Thurston  27:16  

Can you share what you're working on in terms of applying the world Central Kitchen model to our COVID situation. And in particular, this bill that you are working on with Senator Kamala Harris, which is an escalation even further of your work in the world beyond running restaurants back in the day,

José Andrés  27:35  

he's called the feedback and was to put restaurants have been working, especially family owned a small restaurant, to make sure that between the federal government and yours like ours, and the local governments, they may or are the frontlines, we will be able to activate the restaurant to take care of their local food needs. Elderly homes homeless, a hospital's first responders, and in May how amazing the federal government through FEMA supports. The local needs one city at a time through local businesses where the restaurants are working. They can be paying salaries to the people. locals know locals best. They know where the need is working in alliance with the local mayor's feeling the communities in need. In the process, that money goes into the economy. Restaurants can pay rent, people can pay food for the children and the rent at home. We can buy from local farmers at the end. $1 is multiply by four. This is a smart and that's what we're trying to do. We have 2700 restaurants total across 40 states. And at one point we were doing 350,000 meals a day. We are ready in the north of 30 million meals for this pandemic. And while we did what was obvious In the very beginning, many NGOs, many of them Rambo, elderly people, they had to be home, because that was the safe thing to do. So many NGOs kind of shut down business at the early stages of this pandemic, many hospitals, they had functioning restaurants, because well, they build their hospitals in the wrong way. And the kitchens were in the middle of the wrong place. Or people didn't come to work well, because public transportation ended, or where because people weren't getting sick. So 100 kitchen, first thing we did was start covering those needs. We've done hundreds of hospitals across America, we need all the hospitals in Manhattan, in Bronx, in Harlem, in Queens. We began going to the very forgotten communities, a lot of Black communities, a lot of Latino communities. We began feeding elderly care centers. That's what we began doing us covering the black holes of the system. And I'm very proud we did it because was necessary and we We're able to apply our experience to tell Congress, we're showing you what has to be done. We are showing you what we should be doing. We reach through to obetz, New York Times and Washington Post, we told the White House if I was you will, this is why we'll do. We told Congress if we were you, this is what we will do. We're testing that we are already doing it. Support us to keep doing this work beyond what we are already doing. And so far, let's hope this bill will pass. But these many other things that have to happen to fit America can be done. His political will, if Americans go hungry in the weeks and months to come, is because we had the political way to stop it. We cannot stop tomorrow the pandemic, but we can stop tomorrow hunger in America.

Baratunde Thurston  30:53  

If you were to define the word citizen not as a legal status but as a verb. How would you define it?

José Andrés  31:04  

You know, citizen I would say is us to provide for the people you don't know the same you are trying to provide for your own. That should be the true meaning of citizenship. If you only think about your own, it's okay. It's okay. You take care of your own. But you will never put that to children, your family. If you are not hoping to work hard to provide for others the same you're aiming for your own. Hey, I'm from Spain, I know about the castle. Somebody that tells you that by putting your family inside four walls, your family is going to be safer. I like guns. You know, I shoot sometimes when I'm in Spain or here, nothing wrong, I love but if you think like putting people in four walls and use Canada as a way you're gonna be protecting your family. Look at the Spain, we had castles and we weren't in beta at any way. What these really going to be providing you comfort and safety. are not higher walls, but actually no walls are longer tables. Make sure you share the wealth of what you're trying to get on your own with others, and you'll be safer than you've ever dreamed of being. So that's how I will describe it one must be good or you must be good for other is not either person but we the

Baratunde Thurston  32:33  

I want to give some space to our live audience. We have a question from Kathleen.

Unknown Speaker  32:39  

So this is an incredibly difficult time for human beings to do what we normally do which is to come together physically, and it's something that is missing in all of our lives. So when we talk about for those of us who may be in a vulnerable population or taking care of children taking care of elderly that kinds of things that we can do to help the organizations that you're talking about who do provide support to the food challenge. We have a program here in Portland, Oregon called Glen Shea house. So I've been getting people together to make sandwiches for them. I feel like there has to be more that we can do. So on your website, do you have a list of all the organizations and restaurants so that we can expand our knowledge and our support even further, because sometimes the only thing that we can do is get together a coalition of people and make sandwiches and take them to Bletchley house. So even more specific things that we can do in our isolation to help other than write a check.

José Andrés  33:45  

Yeah, I mean, the complication of asking everybody to do food and deliver obviously everybody can do that. And I think this is great, but also we need to be careful. I remember in the early days of the epidemic that a lot of random people were bringing food to hospital Actually, that was not the best for the hospitals because they already were going through hardships, and to have to be handling people that in goodwill, they were trying to bring food every day was creating some mayhem you some hospitals, as you may understand, that's why for us to organize it in a systemic way that everybody knows how what our you're delivering to whom you're delivering, and you're bringing tails out of the equation. And this is very important. But one of the things that I want to mention that I'm very proud of the early days wasn't Jackie Chan went to Yokohama to feed princess cruise ship. 6000 Americans, many Americans 6000 people 18,000 meals a day in Yokohama. From there we moved to Auckland to feed us another princess cruise ship. That were the two big cruise ships that got copied. And from Japan, we already realized even we were following what was happening in China. I was learning about how the restaurants in China were handling how the food systems were happening. Were Chinese people in the middle of bohan running out of food, how are they distribution? So I began putting a lot of thinking in that. So by beginning of March, we got what we call the food safety for COVID-19. And we created a little puppet called muskie. muskie, ma s KY, which is this guy with these big mask that he began telling all of us how to behave, how to behave in the restaurant, how to cook in the restaurant. In a moment, we then know how bad this virus was, to keep distance to wear gloves to sanitation, washing hands, to wear the mask to even wear glasses, but also how to deliver, how to take up how to keep people waiting in line and say the restaurant six feet up boy, we did this circles in mid March, that muskie will be telling you all the things everybody needs to know We did this across many of the places we were delivering food every day, probably we've been delivering food, I don't know in more than 16th 18th at one point 20,000 places a day, all across America. And for me, I wanted to use that moment to keep sending the message from early March about how we had to behave to keep everybody safe. One of the things I'm very proud is that of the 2700 restaurants we've been having with that. We never had to close one. We kept everybody safe. Everybody doing good, everybody healthy. This to me was very important because in the early days, he had a lot of pressure on men what happened if something happens to somebody because I'm asking them to cook. Obviously, everybody we have cooking in my restaurants, or through our central kitchen, there are volunteers and they do it with a heart. So the number one responsibility what you can do is keep everybody safe when you do this. Make sure you keep doing it that we don't bring our guard down. The pandemic is going to go with steel for a few weeks few months, we need to make sure that we don't bring our guard down. We need to think that wearing a mask or wearing gloves or keeping distance, should it be because you are from one political party on another should be because you are making sure that you protect yourself but also you protect others from you. This is what is to be a good citizen. This is what is to be a good American. And every American I know they don't want any bad to happen to other people. So man, the only sacrifice we have to do is wear masks and workloads and keep distance versus soldiers, men and woman that they've gone overseas and put their lives at risk, fighting for freedom of others, and democracy and protecting America. Wow, this is they all sacrifice that have to do to keep moving forward. So this is important. This is one thing beyond feeling that we all should be doing. To say wearing masks shouldn't be political. Keeping distance, shouldn't be political. being respectful to others should be what a citizen means. And being an American means that we the people, we are going to look after each other. If on top of that you are able to be doing fitting that does way go towards Sandra kitchen, you'll see what we do. But we are not the only organization, the Bank of America the food banks, through Feeding America, they've done a great job but they need to be funded by government, right to your senator write to your congressman and tell them why are you not supporting with all the needs of every single Food Bank across America, the school lunches they should be increased not only to feed children, but as the to feed the family of the children's in need. Make sure that every school becomes the heart the Trojan horse for good of the community, right to your senator and to your congressman and tell them to support a school lunches initiatives. Make sure that every other home is fed in the right way protecting the people so we keep them in safe havens. And with Are Not any more elderly, because the colonel is leadership in the early days of this pandemic, and we let them alone is many ways we can keep helping. One of them is keeping everybody safe and telling others to keep everybody safe by doing the same you do a more important, keep writing to your senators and your congressmen and tell them to feed an American in need is not a Republican or Democratic issue. It's an American citizen, issue, feed everybody through this pandemic, and maybe we'll move away from this pandemic is stronger, no weaker.

Baratunde Thurston  39:34  

Jose, I cannot thank you enough for sharing of your extraordinarily indemand time with us here at how to citizen with veriton. De you have modeled so well, what it means to citizen proving and living out what you've asked us all to do. That what's good for you is good for us all. And thank you for living by the words that you've just shared. Peace. Love muchisimas gracias. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

José Andrés  40:04  

Hello, you my friend, Merman, the Giro. I've got a

Baratunde Thurston  40:08  

cut in here, just for you listener and let you know what's about to happen. So we were in the zoom, Jose was saying, Thank you and I love you and drunk kilo. And the live audience is very excited to spend some time and got to ask some questions. And I'm about to wrap this thing up. I'm about to bring it home. And then Jose cuts back in. I thought he was gone. I thought it was gone. And he cuts back in and he starts kind of pounding his fist on his chest. In a loving gesture. He's pounding his fist on his chest. And he prepares to add one more thought to our interview about what we can do in the age of Coronavirus.

José Andrés  40:59  

And by the way, This is the way we should be saying hi, elbows. No more elbows. Everybody coughing their elbow. Oh, and then we go given elbows. Are we pricey? Are we crazy? If this is a spreading, we're spreading them through our elbows. Never an elbow anymore. Elbows for coughing. You do these? And that's all the people need now, man, or what kinda forever in honor of our already gone friend, but no more elbow in and we are getting America in your again. Everybody is having an elbow issue. Are we crazy? And if you love a person a lot you do three, but never elbows again. Are we stupid? We get too close with elbow every time I elbow some buddies if this isn't me, no hands is further away. Sorry I had to man no more elbows. Are we not?

Unknown Speaker  41:59  

There's a

Baratunde Thurston  42:00  

There's a lot of things all right. There's a lot of things I did not expect in 2020. And that just became the number one thing I did not expect Jose is ranting against the elbow. Sorry for amazing reason. No, no, do not apologize.

José Andrés  42:15  

You can do your pasta. That's that is the only. That's that. Okay. That's it.

Baratunde Thurston  42:23  

All right Armando. All right. What conda forever. Yo, that was a Jose Andres chef, entrepreneur, humanitarian, big citizen, and defender of the realm of hygiene and safety when it comes to interpersonal greetings. so wonderful. I heard a lot there. And I just want to reflect intuitively about it. We thought we knew why we wanted Jose to be a part of this show, because he has worked in a way that unlocks the capacity within the communities that he's attempting to help and not just distribute top down aid upon them. And that came through glaringly, to me just now that this is a well thought out compassionate and highly integrated system. That's not just either person, but one that is run by a four and with We the People. He said nothing is more powerful than local community and the only real danger in those dangerous communities is not knowing what they really need, because we're not listening. We're not asking those questions. Food waste is a problem, but wasting people is a much bigger one. And we have an opportunity to tap people to do more to help each other out in this moment that we're in this idea that the meaning of citizen to Jose is that we essentially do for others as we want done to ourselves but that we give to others There's that which we demand for ourselves and that we cannot secure ourselves alone. Just like we cannot citizen alone, what's the point of being in a society to build walls and bear arms alone is not going to bring safety, lower those walls and extend the table so that we all might be nourished so that we all might eat so that we all might feed on all the beauty that food provides us, which isn't just the nutrition. It's the love is the connection. It's the community. And that will allow us to show up stronger literally, in all these other areas that we need strength for, especially now.

Hey, you, it's me again, and it's just us. And whether it's Leanna and Caitlin from the LA community fringes, or Jose Andres with the world central kitchen, we know that there Other ways for us to feed ourselves and take care of each other. If you've seen examples in your own community or been a part of them, please send an email to comments at And just let us know what you think in general about this episode. And now it's your turn to do some actions. In each episode. We love sharing things you can do internally and externally, to strengthen your citizen practice. I don't want you to get all tripped up on memorizing what I'm saying here, when you can always rewind. But we make this available visually at or even closer, wherever you're listening to this podcast right now in the show notes of that app. But this episode, feeding ourselves our way, here are three things you can do. Now, the first is internal. It's kind of a journaling exercise. You can think it out loud to yourself. You can send yourself an email or voice memo, or write longhand, but we want you to explore Your relationship with different types of assistance, mutual aid, versus charitable aid. And I want you to think about how comfortable you are in asking for help when you're in need. Think about a time when someone tried to help you with really good intentions, but they missed the mark because they didn't listen. Think about these and many other questions we have with more detail again in the show notes or but I want you to get personal about your relationship with health, both giving it and receiving it, and whether you notice the difference when that help is mutual versus top down. Alright, so that's number one. Number two, external action. I want you to look into whether your community could benefit from a community fridge or some other mutual aid project depending on what the actual needs are. I'm not going to say everybody needs a fridge because maybe everybody doesn't. But every community It needs something. So we've posted some guides in the show notes and on, but see if this is something that you can start up. Or even better join, join, even typing in to your favorite search engine, mutual aid and insert the name of your city or neighborhood, you may find something you can be a part of. So that's number two. Number three, and finally, lend your voice to ensuring that the feed act becomes law in the United States. This is the piece of legislation Jose Andres has been advocating for and spoke about with us. It allows FEMA to use already allocated disaster relief funds to feed people. It allows for local, state and tribal governments to form contracts with local restaurants and nonprofits and small businesses to make and distribute healthy meals. And it's bipartisan. How often can we say that in these times? There's a house version and a Senate version, and they're stalled. They were part of a larger package. That package has been held up for too many reasons for me to get into. What I want you to do is call and have this thing happen. There's a phone number 202-224-3121. That's the general switchboard. If you already know your reps number Good for you. If you don't check the show notes, we have resources to help you make your first call to Congress. Say your name. Be polite, be direct, be respectful. And let's feed this country with the money and the food flowing through local businesses and local restaurants who are actually on the ground. If you take any of these actions, reflecting on mutual aid, creating or joining a mutual aid effort in your community, calling Congress to demand passage of the feedback, let us know about that. Send an email to action at How to include feeding ourselves in the subject line. And if you feel in real excited, you can share some of this on social media to just use the hashtag #howtocitizen. And we will lift up as many of those as we can through my accounts. If you like what you've heard here and what you've been hearing in this series so far, please leave a review in your podcast app of choice. Give us the good rating if you're feeling that good about the show, and stay connected by signing up for my newsletter at I announced the upcoming shows I provide links to get you into those live tapings, so you can ask questions and share your thoughts.

How to Citizen with Baratunde is a production of IHeartRadio Podcast executive produced by Myles Gray, Nick Stump, Elizabeth Stewart, and Baratunde Thurston. Produced by Joelle Smith and edited by Justin Smith. Powered by you


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