Updated: Aug 23
Chefs are often found on the front lines of disaster zones, helping out where there is a need. Helping out is wired in to a Chefs character so it should be no surprise that when corporation's or the government help isn't enough, Chefs are there to make up the difference.
Besides being a basic need, food is comforting. Just as digital media us sharing our banana bread recipes, it has also made the needs of the masses to relevant to the individual. Hunger is universally relatable and for many Chefs, feels like a solvable problem.
Popular platforms like GoFundme, Kickstarter, and IndieGogo are using technology and the web to crowdsource, making it possible to digitally connect people with causes. People are able to make a personal and emotional connection with the subject and see a direct result from their contribution. Food projects and food charities are popular subjects for donation, especially if the story is compelling enough for potential donors.
Celebrity chefs who’ve already captured the hearts of the masses are often leaders for all types of food charity and many of them have foundations. World famous Italian chef Massimo Bottura has a reputation for innovation in the kitchen and in his approach to food charity. His foundation, Food for Soul, is a nonprofit organization to raise social awareness about food waste and hunger. The equally notable Spanish celebrity chef, Jose Andreas, is known for his activism in food charity and being on the front lines of as many disaster sites as possible, feeding the hungry. His organization, World Central Kitchen is there to bring “a hot plate when it’s needed most.”
Making their food charity activities transparent on social media is reassuring to fans of the celebrity chefs and followers concerned about bigger issues. Fighting world hunger seems less like a looming faceless problem with a familiar and trustworthy face leading the way. Farmers and producers are essential for food charity so when help is needed, chefs, restaurateurs, and other food industry professionals come together to make a difference. Pivotal relationships are formed and bonds are strengthened. New perspectives are forged through the Chef's experience which eventually are shared with their followers.
High engagement with Chefs on social media has led to a significant increase in food charity activities in general. Some of this has been driven by concerns about the environment but often the interest is for specific cases with whom followers are able to connect and follow via the chefs social channels. Younger followers under 35 tend to shop according to their values reveling in transparency, authenticity, and honesty.
Not just on an individual level but corporations looking to connect with consumers have also increased their interest, and their budgets, for charitable causes. The level of involvement from corporations has not changed but the way they approach charitable causes has, listening to what is important to consumers, securing the affection and hopefully the loyalty of the next generations.
The more connected we become, the more we become aware. Scrolling through Instagram or TikTok has become an opportunity to become aware and connected to those in need, and gives us the feeling that this empathy can be transformed into immediate action. No matter how big or small the contribution, the effect is quantified and felt throughout the system. Now instead of chucking mom’s canned beans into a bin, food charity is now just a couple clicks away. Empathy is always available for those looking for it.