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food Chef Jose Andres’s Relief Kitchen Feeds 5,500 Furloughed Federal Workers

Andres’s World Central Kitchen served meals to thousands of government employees this week and plans to keep doing so until the shutdown is over.

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Volunteers work in the kitchen of a restaurant opened by chef Jose Andres for federal workers and their families during a partial government shutdown in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 17, 2019.
Volunteers work in the kitchen of a restaurant opened by chef Jose Andres for federal workers and their families during a partial government shutdown in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 17, 2019. , Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

World renowned chef Jose Andres has helped feed hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, flood survivors in Houston and families forced from their homes by California wildfires.

This week he set his sights on furloughed federal workers in Washington.

Andres’s World Central Kitchen on Thursday served more than 5,500 government employees who’re going without paychecks during a partial shutdown. The non-profit is on track to serve just as many, if not more, Friday -- day 28 of the shutdown -- and has plans to keep going until it’s over, a WCK employee said.

Tens of dozens of furloughed workers patiently waited in the cold for complimentary hot meals on Friday. Federal employees and their families are granted admission between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., after a volunteer checks for a valid ID.

"It brings the federal community together and a lot of us are still working without pay," Department of Justice worker Dawn Win said. "It makes us continue to want to work."

One employee came away with a steak sandwich, while another opted for soup and fruit.

Andres founded World Central Kitchen in 2010 to serve those impacted by the earthquake in Haiti "with the belief that food can be an agent of change," according to the non- profit’s website. The company uses a network of chefs and the meals served are funded by private donations.

Hundreds of people volunteered their services over the past two days in D.C .-- even furloughed employees are helping, WCK officials said.

"This effects people in very unequal ways," Superior Court law clerk Annica Mattus said. "It’s good to know that there’s community support."