"From the challenge of feeding millions of refugees to rising food prices and disrupted wheat crops, the war could have an outsized impact on the food system."
"At 4 a.m. on Tuesday, March 8, two World Central Kitchen (WCK) employees shared a video from Medyka, Poland, on the border of Ukraine. Temperatures were well below freezing as families, some of whom had been traveling for days, poured over the border. “We’ve been out all night serving hot potato and chicken stew to folks walking across,” said a WCK worker identified as Dan, as refugees boarded buses in the background to continue their arduous journeys.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, more than 2 million people—half of them children—have fled their homes in search of safety. Now refugees, they’re in desperate need of food and water. At the same time, bombing has left tens of thousands of Ukrainians who remain in the country without food, water, or power to cook with. Homes, kitchens, and lives are destroyed. Families are sheltering in subway tunnels, far from their pantries and refrigerators. Many in the southern town of Mariupol have been trapped for more than a week without food, water, or electricity.
Food production in the country is in shambles. As of Monday, the largest industrial poultry company was still operating, but distribution routes had been disrupted. Dairy farmers continue to feed and milk their cows, even though sales of milk have been cut in half due to supply chain disruptions. As planting season approaches for grains and other crops, farmers are reporting that they may not be able to get seeds in the ground. Expected shipments of seeds and diesel needed to run equipment have not arrived and rockets overhead inspire fear of working in the fields.
WCK started serving hot meals to refugees crossing the border into Poland within hours of the initial invasion. They have since set up a central commissary kitchen and established meal distribution points across six countries in the region, including Poland, Hungary, Moldova, and Romania. Like it did with restaurants all over the U.S. when COVID-19 caused shutdowns in 2020 and communities struggled to access food, the group is also partnering with local restaurants, caterers, and food trucks within Ukraine. The organization estimates it is now helping to distribute 60,000 meals per day."