Drops in the ocean

Lockdown, day 43.

From my home in Tiana, Spain.

Hundreds of Spanish cooks have joined hands. Together, they donate fresh meals to people, mostly elderly, who, due to the lockdown, do not have the ability to buy food, cook, or just cannot pay for it. In Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and other Spanish cities, meals are now being delivered to people who need it most.

The initiator of this action is José Andres, a multiply awarded American chef of Spanish descent. In 2010 he founded World Center Kitchen (@wckitchen) to deliver meals to victims of natural disasters and to help them grow food themselves. Now he is focussing on the coronacrisis. With his show Chefs for America, he wants to deliver 160.000 fresh meals daily to Amerians who, because of the lockdown, cannot get food. And he kills two birds with one stone: the meals are bought from small local restaurants, so they have at least some income and can keep their staff at work.

The virus hits us all, but the one is in a more comfortable situation then the other. People all round the world are forced or advised to stay at home. The borders are closed. But what happens to the people whose lives are in danger if they have to stay at home? What happens to the day laborers, those wo do not have a safety net and are at mercy now they cannot go to their jobs? And what happens to seasonal workers, who cannot or dare not cross borders now any longer? I think of a country such as India, with millions of people living in poverty. Or of the people in the townships in South Africa. Staying at home to them almost equals dying.

But the consequences of the lockdown reach even further. Food shortages lead to protests, revolts, violence and wars. With a rumbling stomach you are sooner to fall for the false promises of a demagogue. The United Nations alarmed this week the imminent food shortages among millions of people and predict a new pandemic: the hunger pandemic. And there is more going on. Other disasters are mounting: earthquakes, flooding, locust plagues, and on and on. The suffering is incalculable, at least for me. Admirable initiatives such as the one by José Andres are popping up worldwide. But as long as economic and social inequality reigns, they’re only drops in the ocean.