The CCIB and World Central Kitchen join forces to produce 5,000 meals per day for those most in need

The Barcelona International Convention Centre reopens its 3,300 sqm of kitchens and has already served the first 10,500 meals for vulnerable groups affected by the COVID-19 crisis

A hundred volunteers are working on the World Central Kitchen project in the Barcelona area with the aim of distributing 49,000 meals per week through the local Food Bank

Barcelona, 29 April 2020

The Barcelona International Convention Centre (CCIB), managed by the French group GL events, and the NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK), founded by chef José Andrés, have come together to produce and serve up to 5,000 meals per day for the most vulnerable groups in the Barcelona area affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The CCIB reopened last week its 3,300 sqm of kitchens and on Wednesday began distributing the first meals through the local Food Bank. The team at Diagonal Food (the GL events company in charge of the catering at the CCIB) together with chef Carles Tejedor and dozens of volunteers work together in production. 10,500 meals have already been prepared and this week production has increased to 3,000 per day. The goal is to consolidate logistics to ensure the distribution of 5,000 meals a day.

The NGO WCK, founded by Andrés in 2010 and based in the US, provides food to those affected by humanitarian crises all over the world. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, he took action in the US to distribute food through independent restaurants. The US organisation provides the management and funds to start up the kitchens. In Spain, the initiative arrived under the slogan #ChefsforSpain and has already served more than 500,000 meals from 14 kitchens in ten Spanish cities.

In Barcelona, the action came at the end of March with chef Carles Tejedor, a collaborator of José Andrés. Tejedor began production from Terrassa, at the headquarters of Valors Food, with 1,000 daily meals but “it was too small and we have the greatest demand in Barcelona”, Tejedor explains. “We’ve found the best partner in the CCIB, with big professional kitchens and the capacity to accommodate a large logistical operation”, he adds. The collaboration between WCK and CCIB started last week with the first trials and they’ve already distributed 10,500 meals. This week production has increased to 3,000 meals a day and, when logistics are consolidated, the goal will be a daily distribution of 5,000.

According to Tejedor, “the World Central Kitchen’s strength is its power of conviction to partner with companies like CCIB and GL events, who believe in what we’re doing and that the goal is to reach people”. For his part, the General Manager of the CCIB, Marc Rodríguez, said that “CCIB and our group, GL events, have put out the venue at the service of the city from day one” and already hosts a logistics centre for the Catalan government to distribute medical equipment to residences. “It’s what society needs” and now, thanks to WCK’s ambassador in Barcelona, “we have reopened first-class kitchens with a highly professional catering team to produce 5,000 meals per day. At GL we believe and feel that we are part of the World Central Kitchen project, and we will go as far as they need us to“, he said.

The CCIB -managed by the French group GL events, which runs 50 spaces for events in 27 destinations- has 3,300 sqm of kitchens with state-of-the-art equipment and the capacity to prepare up to 30,000 services per day. In addition, the kitchens are certified with ISO 22000:2018, a regulation that ensures compliance with the highest standards of food safety and traceability of the product.

Team with a hundred volunteers

The WCK team at the CCIB is made up of a structural part assumed directly by the CCIB (the kitchen team and the director of Diagonal Food, Maria Bertó) and the rest -about 95%- are volunteers: one group to work in the kitchen and handle food, and the others to bag, pack, clean and distribute food, always with strict health and quality controls. In total, the kitchen, logistics and distribution team, located in Barcelona and Terrassa, consists of a hundred volunteers.

Quality ‘Harvard’-type menu

The food comes from Barcelona Food Bank; local CCIB suppliers offering cost prices; donations from foundations such as Espigoladors; and companies, such as water from Sant Aniol. The menu consists of a ‘Harvard’-type tray, which can be heated, of 450-550g. It is made up of carbohydrates (rice, pulses or pasta), a protein (animal or vegetable), a piece of fresh fruit, a dairy product and water. Once prepared, it goes through a packaging process and is stored in a cold-storage room. The kitchen maintains the same quality standards that are followed to serve menus to congress attendees or restaurant customers, with healthy and high-quality products and ingredients.

To ensure that the meals reach those most in need, the team are working in cooperation with the Barcelona Food Bank, which is responsible for logistics and the distribution of meals, including at weekends. The City Council, for its part, indicates needs and where to take the meals. Currently they are working with Barcelona, Badalona, Hospitalet and Terrassa, and meals have been distributed to town halls, foundations, social and civic centres, and a growing number to private homes.

Target: 49,000 weekly meals

In April -between Terrassa, the CCIB and the Crowne Plaza hotel- more than 50,000 meals have already been distributed. This week, production at the CCIB will be increased to 3,000 meals a day and a total of 35,000 weekly meals will be distributed (21,000 from the CCIB, 10,500 from Terrassa and 3,500 from the Crowne Plaza). Once logistics and distribution are consolidated, the CCIB will once again increase production to 5,000 meals per day and the goal will be to cook and distribute 49,000 per week (35,000 at the CCIB, 10,500 in Terrassa and 3,500 at the Crowne Plaza).

Support needed in logistics and distribution 

“World Central Kitchen has made everyone feel World Central Kitchen”, says Tejedor, “and we have the capacity to feed a lot of people”. However, Tejedor and Rodríguez agree that we are entering a social emergency and must move ahead. To this end, they stressed that the priority will be to get more volunteers for logistics and distribution -an area that requires being able to drive and transport food in quality conditions with refrigeration- so that help can reach the maximum number of people.


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