We Feed People, by Ron Howard, with chef Jose Andres

“We Feed People”: Ron Howard’s documentary about World Central Kitchen closes out DCEFF30

The DC Environmental Film Festival 30 concluded on a cold March 27 (Oscars Day, complete with snow showers in DC) with a morally compelling entry, director Ron Howard’s documentary “We Feed People”. The title has a transitive verb. The film traces the activity of the non-profit charity World Central Kitchen (logo) (official site) as founded and run by Jose Andres, who at one point is presented as a handsome kid in Barcelona, Spain.

The charity is noteworthy for its ability to move into a disaster area and provide an organizes recovery process to feed lots of people.  The film covers particularly the response to the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017, and the eruption of the Fuego volcano in Guatemala.

Andres has a team of volunteers (or employees?) who travel with him and set up the feed stations with lots of practical construction and engineering skills, to restore the remains of existing kitchens and get them running, as well as set up usable campsites.  Obviously, he is able to recruit volunteers from the populations affected.

The last part of the film deals with running the food programs during COVID, starting with serving the Navajo Nation in the SW, whose indigenous people were unusually susceptible to this coronavirus.

Compared to me (and a lot of us) Andres has certainly done something enormously productive in meeting people’s real needs around the world.  Cooking for people is a practical, lower-tech skill.  I can remember that at the Ninth Street Center in New York in the 1970s a lot was made of this by Paul Rosenfels when he counseled me (and encouraged me to participate in doing the dishes for the Saturday night potlucks, of chicken aspic and the like).  Paul would spend all Saturday cooking for the potlucks.

Andres is well known for his own restaurant chain.  I think the occurrence closest to me is in Crystal City in Arlington.

There are many other food charities, or course. The closest one to me (which Freddie’s Beach Bar holds food donation evenings for) is the Arlington Food Assistance Center on Four Mile Run near Shirlington. The best known in Washington DC is Food and Friends, which has a full volunteer staff preparing meals for HIV and cancer patients.  I volunteered for them in the 90s (doing the accounting), and delivered for them once in Arlington and Alexandria.  I passed, however, on delivering alone by car in SE Washington in 2016, and am not proud of pulling out from physical safety concerns.

I don’t know if there is any relation between Jose, and composer and pianist Timo Andres (NYC), who has also made cooking videos in the past.

Name: “We Feed People”

Director, writer:          Ron Howard (Jose Andres)

Released: 2022

Format:            1.85:1

When and how viewed:          DCEFF30 virtual $10 2022/3/27

Length:            89

Rating: NA

Companies: Imagine Entertainment Documentaries;  National Geographic

Link: Hollywood Reporter PR;  FB

Stars: ****_

(Posted: Monday, March 28, 2022 at 12 noon EDT by John W. Boushka)