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What World Central Kitchen does and why the attack in Gaza matters – NBC Chicago

World Central Kitchen responds to disasters.

An international humanitarian organization that provides aid to victims and first responders in humanitarian disasters around the world, the group was unintentionally thrust into the tragic spotlight on Monday when seven of its aid workers operating in Gaza were killed by a strike Israeli air force.

The victims included a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, as well as team members from Poland, Britain and Australia, as well as a Palestinian driver.

Calling the victims “angels,” renowned Spanish-American leader and WCK founder José Andrés called on the Israeli government to “put an end to these indiscriminate killings.”

Following the deadly attack, WCK suspended operations in the 68 “community kitchens” it operated in Gaza over the past six months. The group claims to have provided more than 43 million meals to Palestinians during this period.

Before the deadly attack, WCK was one of the main suppliers of food to war-torn Gaza.

In a March 29 update, the U.S.-based nonprofit said it had sent 1,700 truckloads of food and cooking equipment to its community kitchens and other truckloads Much-needed supplies were arriving in Gaza via the Rafah crossing.

WCK said it had also requested help from the Jordanian Air Force to airdrop food into Gaza, particularly in more remote areas that truck convoys cannot reach.

And last month, WCK took the bold step of building a pier out of rubble to allow supply ships to deliver aid to Gaza from Cyprus.

The New York Times reported that WCK did so after obtaining approval from the Israeli military.

“WCK does not advocate a political agenda and we are not replacing any of the other organizations in Gaza, despite reports and claims suggesting otherwise,” the organization insisted.

Monday wasn’t the first time WCK workers came under fire. Last year, four employees were injured when the kitchen they had set up in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv was hit by a Russian missile.

Founded in 2010, the association’s credo is detailed on its website:

“Food is essential to life every day, everywhere – and it is more important than ever during a crisis. Not only is a thoughtful, freshly prepared meal one less thing someone has to worry about in the wake of a disaster, it’s a reminder that you’re not alone.

Andrés and his wife Patricia first put these words into practice in 2010, following a deadly earthquake in Haiti that left thousands dead and tens of thousands more hungry.

Working with local chefs and food purveyors, Andrés’ team set up kitchens across the ravaged country where they prepared and served Haitian “comfort food,” like black beans in a creamy sauce.

Since then, WCK has organized food relief operations following disasters – both man-made and natural – in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Zambia, Peru, Cuba, Uganda, the Bahamas, Cambodia and than in Ukraine.

WCK debuted in the United States in August 2017, working with the American Red Cross to provide thousands of meals to survivors of Hurricane Harvey. in Texas.

The following month, WCK led part of the disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. And later that year, WCK was in Southern California providing food to firefighters and families displaced by the massive Thomas Fire.

During the pandemic, WCK also set up soup kitchens in New York, New Jersey and Washington, DC.

This story first appeared on NBCNews.com. More from NBC News:

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