Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Partner With José Andrés to Build Community Centers for Natural Disaster Relief
"We see a world that’s full of dignity, empathy, and humanity. We believe in the healing power of food."
This past October, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced that they had launched a nonprofit foundation called Archewell. The foundation's website still doesn't provide any information beyond the origin of its name—a combination of Greek "arche," meaning source of action, along with the "plentiful source" evoked by a well—but the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have already planned what Archewell's first philanthropic project will be.
Over the weekend, they revealed that Archewell is working with José Andrés and World Central Kitchen and will provide the funds to build four community relief centers for the organization. According to The Telegraph, the permanent structures will be opened after large-scale emergencies or natural disasters, and will be adaptable enough to become schools, medical clinics, or community centers as needed.
"The health of our communities depends on our ability to connect to our shared humanity," the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said in a statement. "When we think about Chef Andrés and his incredible team at World Central Kitchen, we're reminded that even during a year of unimaginable hardship, there are so many amazing people willing––and working tirelessly––to support each other. World Central Kitchen inspires us through compassion in action."
The first center is currently under construction in the Lesser Antilles island of Dominica, which was devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. (According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Maria is believed to be "the worst natural hazard-induced disaster on record" in the country.) A second center has been planned for Puerto Rico, while the locations for the third and fourth have not yet been announced.
"This year, I’ve seen many, many examples of neighbors supporting neighbors, of communities coming together to get through tough times. At our root, we believe in one another, in doing what's right for strangers as much as we do for our friends and family," Andrés said in a statement.
"World Central Kitchen and I, we see a world that’s full of dignity, empathy, and humanity. We believe in the healing power of food, and we like to say wherever there's a fight so hungry people may eat, we will be there. We are more energised than ever to continue this vital work, and we're proud that it will be hand in hand with Archewell Foundation and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex."
Nate Mook, the CEO of World Central Kitchen, told Bloomberg that the cost of each community center will vary based on its design and location, but it will take at least $50,000 to get each one of them going.
In April, Markle and Prince Harry both volunteered with Project Angel Food, delivering prepared meals and pantry staples to vulnerable Los Angeles residents. "They were dressed so casually—that's not how you expect to see them," Richard Ayoub, the CEO Of Project Angel Food, told CNN. "You don't expect to see them at your door."
The Telegraph added that Markle has been volunteering at soup kitchens since she was a teenager. She also made regular visits to Hubb Community Kitchen at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in West London, which provided meals and support to the families of those affected by the tragic Grenfell Tower fire. She also helped to design and publish a cookbook of recipes from the Kitchen's regulars; the proceeds were donated to the organization, and paid for a kitchen renovation and allowed them to open five additional days a week.
"I immediately felt connected to this community kitchen: it is a place for women to laugh, grieve, cry and cook together," she wrote in the foreword to the cookbook. "Melding cultural identities under a shared roof, it creates a space to feel a sense of normalcy—in its simplest form, the universal need to connect, nurture and communicate through food, through crisis or joy—something we can all relate to.”
This story originally appeared on Food & Wine.