WASHINGTON — A train car filled with food for World Central Kitchen's relief efforts in Eastern Ukraine was blown up by a Russian missile Wednesday, according to World Central Kitchen Founder Chef José Andrés.
The food train was a part of World Central Kitchen, which is run by celebrity chef José Andrés, to establish feeding systems in disaster and war zones.
Andrés tweeted no one was hurt in the attack, but the missile destroyed 34 pallets of food designated for Eastern Ukrainians who are on the front lines of the war.
"It was a major major hit. I mean the entire one of the railway wagons was just completely destroyed. I mean the metal just kind of bent and mangled. All of our food was either burned or kind of spread all across the railway yard," World Central Kitchen CEO Nate Mook said. “So this is probably well over $50,000 worth of food. You know this is tons of food that are transported so probably around 40 tons of food.”
Mook said the train car was filled with canned meats, fresh vegetables and other types of products put together in 30-pound meal kits for Ukrainian families.
“The area we’re distributing them to in Eastern Ukraine is right on the front lines. So these are families that don't have access to any other food or supplies, so really critical to get this food to them," Mook said. "We're not sure the state of the other two wagons need to get in there once we have access tomorrow morning. So it's possible that some of the other food was also damaged or lost but we're hoping that the other two wagons are okay.”
Mook said they are already sending more trains to the area and will drive the supplies via truck as a last resort.
Railways were also destroyed in the blast, however, Mook said the Ukrainian railway company has been quickly working to get the tracks repaired.
Mook said it appears to be a new focus for the Russian invading forces to target railway infrastructure.
“I don't think World Central Kitchen was a direct target, but I do think the humanitarian supplies and the railway infrastructure were a direct target, and so considering how much food World Central Kitchen is moving by train, you know, unfortunately, this was probably an inevitability," Mook said. "We are the only organization really operating in force in these areas that are getting all of this food and supplies in and so you know it is not surprising.”