School & District Management

In Puerto Rico, Chef José Andrés Heralds School Cooks Feeding Those in Need

By Andrew Ujifusa — October 10, 2017 2 min read
Xoimar Manning, center, reacts as chef José Andrés, right, tells her he will take care of her daughter’s future education expenses. Andrés was visiting the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as part of his effort to organize school cafeterias to feed those displaced by Hurricane Maria.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

San Juan, Puerto Rico

José Andrés had just come back from Manatí and Dorado on Puerto Rico’s northern coast, bursting with excitement about school cafeterias.

The world-renowned chef, who oversees more than 20 restaurants in the United States, including one in Dorado, came to Puerto Rico to help with relief efforts after Hurricane Maria. But when he was speaking with the island’s Secretary of Education Julia Keleher about Puerto Rico’s recovery from the storm, he began to form an idea about how he could connect schools to his culinary skills.

Related Video

Chef José Andrés discusses his efforts to use school cafeterias to help feed the people of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

“I began talking to her and I saw that the kitchens at the school were very good, and they had employees that were very good,” Andrés said outside the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum in San Juan on Oct. 9.

In conjunction with Keleher’s agency, he is now trying to organize people to work in school cafeterias to prepare as much food as possible. And he’s encouraged by what he sees. One school in the mountain village of Utuado is in tune with what Andrés envisions, and is serving food to people who have lost their homes.

Andrés supports the idea of schools taking on a substitute role as food distribution sites. In fact, he thinks some cafeteria workers are ahead of the game, even though they’re not working in closed schools.

See Also: In Puerto Rico, a Daunting Effort to Reopen Schools, Headed by a Determined Leader

“I am already receiving news that many of the cooks of the school cafeterias, they’ve been volunteering and setting up kitchens in the squares in every corner of Puerto Rico, feeding people,” he said. “I’m very happy that Puerto Ricans are showing that they’re very creative in taking care of themselves.”

Enthusiastic Reception

When Andrés showed up at the coliseum in a blue SUV, he was greeted by a burst of applause and cheers. The coliseum is serving as a major hub for food distribution efforts. He stopped to speak with Xoimar Manning, whose daughter Alondra has been volunteering to move the food out to communities in need. Manning couldn’t hold back tears, and she and Andrés shared a long embrace before moved on.

Andrés thinks organizing the relief efforts around schools means “empowering local jobs and local food.” And even more importantly in his mind, the effort can be sustained by the island’s people.

“Nobody’s going to do it better than Puerto Ricans feeding Puerto Ricans,” Andrés said. “And that’s the movement you see here. It’s Puerto Ricans taking care of Puerto Ricans.”


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Classroom Strategies for Building Equity and Student Confidence
Shape equity, confidence, and success for your middle school students. Join the discussion and Q&A for proven strategies.
Content provided by Project Lead The Way
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Professional Development Webinar
Disrupting PD Day in Schools with Continuous Professional Learning Experiences
Hear how this NC School District achieved district-wide change by shifting from traditional PD days to year-long professional learning cycles
Content provided by BetterLesson
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management After a Lesson on Michelangelo's David, a Florida Principal Loses Her Job
Parents complained that images of the famous sculpture were "pornographic" and that they weren't notified of the lesson in advance.
Michelangelo's marble statue of "David", is seen in Florence's Galleria dell' Accademia on May 24, 2004.
Michelangelo's marble statue of "David" is displayed in the Galleria dell' Accademia in Florence, Italy.
Fabrizio Giovannozzi/AP
School & District Management A New Federal Plan Could Make Free School Meals a Reality for More Students
The plan will mostly benefit districts in states where lawmakers have enacted universal free school meal policies.
5 min read
Young boy in a school lunchroom cafeteria line and choosing a slice of pizza to put on his tray which includes an apple.
SDI Productions/Getty
School & District Management Did Principal Turnover Increase During the Pandemic? Here's What We Know
The data are still scant, but what’s emerging shows a drop in 2020-21 and an increase the following year.
6 min read
Black and white male and female figures walking in different directions on a light blue textured background. One male figure is walking out of an open door.
Anton Vierietin/Getty
School & District Management MAP: Where School Employees Can and Can't Strike
See which states do and don't allow public school employees to go on strike.
2 min read
Amy Chapman and her daughter, first grader Corinne Anderson, pose for a photo while they support teachers on strike outside Whetstone High School in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022.
Amy Chapman and her daughter, 1st grader Corinne Anderson, show support for teachers on strike outside Whetstone High School in Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 24, 2022.
Samantha Hendrickson/AP