Chef and restaurateur Marc Murphy is working with World Central Kitchen to help feed Ukrainians refugees fleeing Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Following the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the International Organization for Migration estimates that 6.5 million Ukrainians have been displaced internally and an additional 3.7 million have fled the country as refugees, according to latest estimates from the UN Refugee Agency. The majority of those crossing the border are arriving in Poland, but many are also traveling to nearby countries including Romania, Moldova, Hungary, and Slovakia.
After hearing the news of Russia’s attack, Murphy says he knew he needed to do something. “I have a skill,” he tells Food Tank. “I know how to run kitchens, I know how to feed people, I know how to feed a lot of people.”
Aware that World Central Kitchen (WCK)—an organization started by Chef and activist Jose Andres that feeds communities around the world affected by crises—was working to provide meals to refugees traveling to Poland, Murphy jumped on a plane to join them.
Murphy arrived in Przemysl, a city in southeastern Poland, just as WCK was building their kitchen. Now fully functional, they are up to 12,000 meals per day. “It’s pretty impressive,” Murphy tells Food Tank. “It’s like opening a very, very large restaurant.”
In WCK’s kitchen, Murphy works alongside volunteers coming from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from fellow chefs to economists, who traveled to Poland from countries around the world. “I’ve been blown away by the beauty of humanity,” Murphy says.
Once the meals are ready, Murphy explains that the WCK’s logistics team help to ensure the meals reach different distribution sites including centers train stations and refugee centers.
And while Murphy says that he is helping to address an acute hunger crisis now, he fears that the repercussions of the war will be far-reaching and felt for years to come. Ukraine is a leading exporter of agricultural products, explains Economist Vitalii Dankevych, and the war is expected to increase food insecurity in regions including the Middle East and North Africa.
“The ripples…happening here are going to be extremely difficult for our planet,” Murphy says.
For now, Murphy is working to take it “one day at a time,” he tells Food Tank. “Being a decent human being is where it all starts.”
Listen to the full conversation with Marc Murphy on “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg” to hear more about what Murphy is seeing on the ground, the efforts of WCK, and the drive to nourish people “that’s inherent to being a restaurateur and chef.”
For those able to support Ukrainians impacted by the war, please consider donating to World Central Kitchen.
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Photo courtesy of Marc Murphy