The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the health and wellbeing of communities across the country. It has also affected the access and delivery of critical supplies such as food.
In response, through the Caterpillar Foundation, our Caterpillar facility in North Little Rock, Arkansas, provided a grant to World Central Kitchen (WCK) — an innovative NGO that prepares meals in the wake of disasters and works to build more sustainable food systems through long-term programs.
World Central Kitchen uses the power of food to heal communities and strengthen economies through times of crisis and beyond. Providing food eliminates a major worry for many and allows them to focus on other needs in their lives. Serving a dignified plate of food speaks to people, reminding them that they are seen and cared about, especially in times of crisis. Employing and empowering local restaurants to feed people in their own neighborhoods further intensifies the positive impact in the community.
In Little Rock, WCK activated its chef network to prepare and serve healthy, nutritious meals to students affected by school closures. WCK mobilized food trucks to act as distribution points at about 20 local schools.
One of those food trucks is owned by Kyler Pounders, who activated his network to get food where it was needed most. The meals and program advertising was geared towards students in need, but Pounders and his team never turned away someone who was hungry.
Pounders said that the students and parents are so grateful for the meals being served. “At an age when nothing is normal and everything is scary, [WCK gives] people something that’s consistent,” he said. Knowing meals will be provided allows kids to focus on school and parents to focus on paying bills.
In addition to the food truck network, WCK called on its friendship with the Clinton Foundation and shared resources in order to serve as many meals as possible. Utilizing the kitchens and space at the Clinton Presidential Library was essential to the success of the program in Little Rock.
The #ChefsForAmerica response to COVID-19 is unlike any previous WCK activation: cities across the country have served meals simultaneously, and the response time has lasted longer than any in WCK’s history.
With the Foundation’s support, WCK was able to purchase ingredients for freshly-prepared meals, as well as fuel for the food trucks. Through these efforts, the Little Rock activation consistently served about 7,000 meals per day to students experiencing food insecurity.
Visit World Central Kitchen to learn more about their work.