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José Andrés converts Washington Nationals’ ballpark into emergency kitchen

José Andrés

Rob Carr | GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA | Getty Images via AFP

J-P Mauro - published on 04/11/20

The chef hopes to use the stadium to prepare 50,000 meals per day to feed the needy who have been affected by the coronavirus quarantine.

The Washington Nationals have partnered with World Central Kitchen (WCK) to provide thousands of free meals each day to Washington, D.C. residents who may have difficulty accessing food during the coronavirus crisis. The World Series champions are providing the kitchen facilities needed for the effort, as well as generous funding, while WCK is supplying the workforce and culinary know-how. Once prepared, the meals will be delivered all over the capital area via Uber Eats.

José Andrés

Read more:
Celebrity Chef José Andrés is feeding those hit hard by the coronavirus

With the baseball season postponed, America’s many ballparks stand as little more than somber monuments to the great American pastime. This year, the baseball diamonds will remain covered, the stands will not reverberate with the cheers of a 2020 crowd, and their kitchens will be left devoid of hotdogs … or at least they would have been if not for José Andrés.

Celebrity chef José Andrés has partnered his non-profit organization, World Central Kitchen, with the Washington Nationals in order to utilize the stadium’s enormous kitchens and produce thousands of meals during the coronavirus pandemic. Andrés’ team has taken control of two large kitchens in the stadium, where they are already producing 1,000 meals per day, but WCK hopes to get that number up to as many as 50,000 per day.

Eater Washington D.C. notes that Nationals Park is owned by the D.C. government, and was constructed with the express stipulation that it was never meant to be used for anything besides sporting events. Be that as it may, the stadium agreed to allow WCK to perform their invaluable service in their facilities. Jonathan Stahl, vice president of experience and hospitality for the Nationals, explained:

“We are stewards of this public building — it’s not used to play baseball now, so how can we use it in the best way possible?” “Partnering with WCK was a no-brainer,” Stahl added. “Our operations here are consolidated — we have very large kitchens and a lot of fire power where we can produce a lot of food quickly and efficiently.”

The efforts at Nationals Park are already going to feed those in need in several areas of Washington, D.C., including the Navy Yard, Southwest Waterfront neighborhoods, and the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Fort Dupont. They expect, however, that the demand will rise in the coming weeks and they are already looking to expand their operation to help people in Wards 7 and 8, as well as D.C.’s homeless population.

The idea only went into effect last week, but the good works from Nationals Park are already making a difference in the community. The dedicated WCK team works with Nationals Park employees and volunteers in a tireless effort from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day to produce as many meals as is humanly possible.

The food prepared in Nationals Park is assembled with proper nutrition in mind and — not surprisingly — they sound delicious. Eater goes on to describe a typical meal prepared by WCK:

Tuesday’s meal is a chicken and broccoli stir-fry with cilantro rice and toasted sesame. Later this week, people will get a plate of beef fajitas with roasted peppers and onions, garlic rice, and black beans.

The food and packaging come from companies like Sysco and Acme Paper, with supporting funds raised by Nationals Philanthropies, fans, corporations, foundations, and even Nationals personnel and players. As of April 8, they had already raised more than $250,000, which will go towards their own efforts, as well as the fine work of organizations such as the Mid-Atlantic Food Access and Resilience Coalition and Martha’s Table.

Interested parties can donate to the Nationals Philanthroipies fund by clicking here.

With the MLB season postponed, there are 29 other stadiums in major cities throughout the country that are left similarly empty. While none of the other stadiums have announced plans to open their kitchens, it is hopeful that they may follow the Nationals example and allow World Central Kitchen or similar charitable organizations to put their valuable facilities and resources to use.

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