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Spanish chef provides soup, sandwiches to US federal workers amid shutdown

Hundreds of federal workers affected by the partial government shutdown waited in line at a Washington restaurant on Jan. 16, 2019, to receive free soup and sandwiches distributed by volunteers spearheaded by Spanish chef Jose Andres, who provides food to victims of natural disasters. EFE-EPA/ Michael Reynolds

Hundreds of federal workers affected by the partial government shutdown waited in line at a Washington restaurant on Jan. 16, 2019, to receive free soup and sandwiches distributed by volunteers spearheaded by Spanish chef Jose Andres, who provides food to victims of natural disasters. EFE-EPA/ Michael Reynolds

EFE

As if it were a natural disaster, the World Central Kitchen humanitarian assistance organization of Spanish chef Jose Andres on Wednesday distributed soup and sandwiches in central Washington to dozens of federal employees affected by the partial government shutdown.

World Central Kitchen, which has provided food in Haiti to people affected by the devastating 2010 earthquake and in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017, has turned its attention to helping out US federal workers who are receiving no pay on the 26th day of the partial paralysis of about one-quarter of the government.

Office workers, US Park Police and other federal contractors and government staffers lined up a few at a time to get the lunch handouts - with that line gradually growing until it crossed Pennsylvania Ave.

“We need help,” federal worker Sam Bradley told EFE, noting that the partial shutdown is having a human impact, adding that the government never should have shut down.

Michael, as another worker identified himself, complained about the “negative impact” that the situation is having on families, neighbors and the country as a whole, adding that he was “frustrated” by the whole thing.

Others lining up for the free lunches preferred not to speak with the press, with some - in effect - hiding under the hoods of their winter coast while they waited to enter the small cafe where the food, including ham and cheese sandwiches with a fried egg and alioli sauce, and was being distributed.

For the vegetarians in the crowd, there was a bowl of quinoa, and everyone could get a little bowl of tomato and fennel soup.

One of the chefs, Tim Kilcoyne, owner of the Scratch Food truck in Ventura, California, said he had come to Washington to help those suffering because of the shutdown and told EFE that they had prepared food for some 2,000 people. The lunches would normally cost between $8 and $10 each, but they were being served free to any and all federal workers who showed up.

Jose Andres said that he considers the government shutdown to be “another kind of emergency,” noting that about 800,000 federal workers are not receiving their pay since Congress and President Donald Trump have not been able to agree on certain parts of the federal budget - in particular the president’s demand for $5.7 billion to start building his much-touted US-Mexico border wall, a project Democratic lawmakers consider to be wasteful, inefficient and contrary to American values.


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