(NewsNation) — It’s now been nine months since Ukrainians were invaded by their Russian neighbors, and two celebrity chefs are doing their part to help aid the ailing country.
Chef José Andrés recently returned from Kherson, where he was feeding some 75,000 people now in the city. The second largest city in Ukraine, its prewar population was approximately 280,000.
Russia has continued to strike key infrastructure across the country, leaving many people without electricity.
“What we need to understand is that what we are seeing going on in Ukraine was like a movie. It’s between the people of goodness and the people of hate,” Andres said. “It doesn’t make any sense that we are killing children, elderly and women. It doesn’t make any sense that we have a war in Europe in the 21st century.”
Andres is the founder of World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides meals in the wake of natural disasters. The group has aided the people of Florida after Hurricane Ian, fed people in Pakistan following historic floods and delivered meals to thousands left stranded after protests in Panama.
Another chef acquainted with Andres and World Central Kitchen is Marc Murphy. The chef and judge on Food Network’s “Chopped” spent two months feeding refugees in Poland.
When he got there, he said he really didn’t know what he was stepping into.
“It was just humanity, man. It was going there and seeing people that were hungry,” Murphy said. “I didn’t care who was right, who was wrong, what was going on. You saw all these women and children crossing the border with their suitcases and, like, shopping bags, going into refugee centers and needing food.”
Feeding up to 15,000 people a day, Murphy was in awe at how many and how much people wanted to help.
“The most amazing thing about going there and being in this kitchen … was seeing the beautiful humanity. There were people that were showing up from Denmark, from Spain, from France, from New York, from everywhere in the country,” Murphy said. “Some people didn’t even know how to cook, but they just said, ‘What can I do?'”
Millions of Ukrainians have been displaced during the war that has left tens of thousands dead and created a humanitarian crisis on a scale not seen since World War 2. Refugees have flooded into neighboring countries including Hungary and Romania, though Poland has received the vast majority.
What Russia expected to be a quick and decisive affair has now turned into a war of attrition, with the Ukrainian army holding their ground due in large part to military aid from Western countries. The United States has committed more than $19 billion.
As winter sets in, the situation is becoming dire. Attacks on infrastructure means most of the country will be left without critical needs including heat.
Andres said that while donating to NGOs like his will help feed the Ukrainian people, continued support for Ukraine on a public policy level is most critical.
“We need to be nonstop calling our senators, our congressman, both Democrats and Republicans, and to be showing support for a country that is a Christian country, that is a country that is fighting and defending democracy like many of us believe in America,” Andres said. “We need to invest the solution: to be telling Russia, to be telling Putin, this war needs to end now, and that nobody in America is going to be supporting a person (who only) wants to … create mayhem.”