“I have a little surprise for you,” said newly developed astronaut Jeff Bezos at what appeared to be the conclusion of his press conference following the successful inaugural Blue Origin flight.
After answering reporters’ questions about his plans for the future of space tourism and scaling up the cost of space travel, the former Amazon CEO said he had a new announcement.
Bezos introduced the “Courage and Civility Award,” a grant that recognizes “leaders who aim high, pursue solutions with courage, and always do so with courtesy.” The award, a $ 100 million grant for nonprofit work, was aimed at “unionists, not fools,” Bezos said.
The first two recipients are CNN commentator Van Jones, who is also the founder of the racially just non-profit Dream Corps, and celebrity chef José Andrés, the founder of World Central Kitchen.
Andrés has long been recognized for associating his love of cooking with humanitarian projects.
In the onset of the pandemic, when restaurants across the United States closed, leaving many out of work, World Central Kitchen paid restaurants to feed communities in need, as well as provide meals to front-line workers. According to World Central Kitchen, nonprofits have withdrawn more than $ 140 million to local economies and worked with over 400 cities in 35 states. Globally, World Central Kitchen estimates that it has served over 35 million meals as part of their COVID response program.
Most recently, WCK was present at sites in Germany dealing with floods and at the collapse of the building in Surfside, Florida.
“World Central Kitchen was born from the simple idea that food has the power to create a better world,” a visibly moved Andrés said at the press conference. “A plate of food is a plate of hope.”
“This award cannot feed the world alone, but this is the start of a new chapter for us,” said the Spanish-born chef. “It allows us to think beyond the next hurricane to the biggest challenges we face.”
The $ 100 million grant, according to Bezos, is unrelated, meaning Jones and Andrés can spend what they want, either on their own nonprofit or on other organizations.
“Now is the time to think big, solve hunger with the first urgent moment,” said Andrés. “The only thing we want to do is revolutionize disaster and hunger. People do not want our pity. They want our respect. The least we can do is be next to them when things get tough. ”
Andrés, who says he plans to double food aid worldwide, is motivated by the thousands affected by the pandemic. He hopes to tackle the root causes of world hunger, he says.
“I believe in longer tables not higher walls,” said the chef. “Let’s feed the world.”