Combating Hunger, Creating Opportunity

DC Central Kitchen is America's leader in reducing hunger with recycled food, training unemployed adults for culinary careers, serving healthy school meals, and rebuilding urban food systems through social enterprise.
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Posts by Amanda Butts

Book Launch Party Honoring DC Central Kitchen’s 25th Anniversary

, August 14th, 2014

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DC Central Kitchen invites you to join us on September 18th for a launch party celebrating the release of the new book written in honor of our 25th anniversary year, “The Food Fighters: DC Central Kitchen’s First 25 Years on the Front Lines of Hunger and Poverty” by our own Chief Development Officer, Alexander Justice Moore.

Thursday, September 18, 2014
Liaison Capitol Hill’s Rooftop Pool & Bar
415 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Come celebrate with us and enjoy:

Tickets are $75 each, and include food, drinks, and a signed copy of “The Food Fighters.”
$40 of your purchase is a tax deductible contribution to DC Central Kitchen

Online ticket sales have closed. Tickets may be purchased at the door.


Can’t make the event but want to buy the book? You can find it on Amazon. (Don’t forget to use AmazonSmile to support DC Central Kitchen!)


Thanks to our good friends for their support of this celebration:



Donor Profile: Sharon and Larry Beeman Plan a Legacy of Impact

, July 16th, 2014


Retirees Sharon and Larry Beeman got to know DC Central Kitchen the way they got to know many charitable organizations: through benefit events. They attended DC Central Kitchen’s second-ever Capital Food Fight in 2005, and have been deeply engaged with DC Central Kitchen as donors ever since.

“At some point we were invited to come for a tour of DC Central Kitchen after we attended our first Capital Food Fight,” remembers Larry. “What struck us most was seeing the graduates of the Culinary Job Training program who were employed at the Kitchen. You could see they had a developed a real career with real skills and real discipline.”

As Larry and Sharon got to know DC Central Kitchen and its programs, they realized that their financial contributions made a tangible impact in the community. In 2011, they made the weighty decision to include DC Central Kitchen in their will.

“At one point we asked ourselves, ‘Where would these men and women be without DC Central Kitchen?’ As we were choosing organizations to include in our estate plans, we knew DC Central Kitchen was one of them.”-Sharon Beeman

Larry adds, “Since we first included charities in our will in 2011, we’ve made the strategic decision to increase our impact by supporting fewer organizations with a larger portion of our estate. DC Central Kitchen rose to the top of that short list very quickly over the past few years. We’ve always been so impressed with how well informed we’re kept of how our support is used and how well we’ve been treated by the staff.”

In fact, just about every staff member at DC Central Kitchen knows the Beemans. They are frequent attendees at many DC Central Kitchen events, from fundraisers like the Capital Food Fight and Sips & Suppers to the quarterly graduations of the Culinary Job Training program. “Going to graduation is the highlight of our week. Really!” Sharon insists. “Talking to the graduates and learning where they’ve been and where they’re going with their new skills is inspiring.” Larry adds, “We wish more of DC Central Kitchen’s supporters would join us at graduations!”

DC Central Kitchen is launching a planned giving society to honor our donors who have chosen to include us in their estate plans. If you would like to join the Beemans in making a legacy commitment to DC Central Kitchen, or if you already have included DC Central Kitchen in your will, please contact Amanda Butts, Donor Relations Manager, at or 202-847-0221.

Donor Profile: Kevin Tansey, Lifelong Volunteer

, April 28th, 2014

Kevin Tansey with WifeIf Kevin Tansey were a DC Central Kitchen staff member, he’d be one of the most tenured members of the staff.

Kevin began volunteering with DC Central Kitchen in 2005 through the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, a Jesuit volunteer organization for those 50 years old or more. He had the choice of working with one of three nonprofits and, as he was scoping out where he wanted to work, he only had to go as far as his first visit: to DC Central Kitchen. “I just walked in, and it felt right,” says Kevin, a former Peace Corps volunteer and retired program evaluator, who worked for 32 years at the Government Accountability Office (GAO). “The energy at the kitchen was incredible.”

Kevin started his service in the Kitchen’s finance office assisting with tasks such as bank reconciliations, and in 2007 he moved over to help the development office implement its new donor database. Since then, Kevin has been responsible for data entry required to process donations, sharing six or more hours of his time with DC Central Kitchen each week.

Kevin’s generosity doesn’t stop at giving his time. He and his wife Martha, who met as Peace Corps volunteers in Borneo, also support DC Central Kitchen financially. They make an annual gift each year and purchase tickets to DC Central Kitchen’s annual fundraising event, the Capital Food Fight.

In 2013, the Tanseys increased their annual gift. When asked what inspired their additional generosity, Kevin said, “Age! We’re both over 70 now and are happy to use some of the required minimum distribution from our Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to increase our gift to DC Central Kitchen.”

You want your life to contribute to something meaningful. DC Central Kitchen is constantly working and reworking issues and coming up with great solutions to serve our neighbors in need. It gives meaning to my life to support DC Central Kitchen as a volunteer and as a donor.
- Kevin Tansey, DCCK donor and volunteer

Given his long tenure with DC Central Kitchen, Kevin has advice for other donors who want to learn more about the organization. He advises, “Participate with the kitchen as many ways as you can. Every rock you turn over, you find more impressive things.”

Creativity, Compassion and Confidence: The Right Ingredients

, January 7th, 2014
DCCK Chef Instructor Afiya Howell (front) with cookoff judges and the 4th Arlington County Culinary Job Training Class

DCCK Chef Instructor Afiya Howell (front) with cookoff judges and the 4th Arlington County Culinary Job Training Class

I’m a chef. It isn’t always easy for women in my industry to move up and make their presence felt. It takes the right mix of skill and swagger to get ahead.

After 13 years of honing my craft, serving carefully made meals to sorority sisters and even U.S. Senators, I thought I had those skills and that swagger down pat. What I started aching for wasn’t a professional edge, but a chance to give something back to my community.

I found that chance at DC Central Kitchen in January 2012. For more than 20 years, DCCK has turned the traditional soup kitchen model on its head, refusing to simply serve an endless line of ‘lost causes’ and instead train people who are out of work for good jobs in the culinary industry. What a perfect place for a chef to help others!

Of course, I assumed I would be the one doing the helping, not the one being helped. After all, what could people who had spent years out of work, or in prison, or on the streets teach me, a woman who had it all together?

It wasn’t long—a week, maybe two—before I began to understand just how much I had to learn from these resilient men and women.

At first, I tried to focus my lessons on the basics of working in a kitchen. I lectured—firmly and slowly. When my students struggled to follow, I slowed my speech down even more, until I realized I was speaking to them like they were children. I wasn’t meeting them where they were. I was playing down to where my assumptions indicated they might be.

Soon, my students were teaching me how to be a better, more creative teacher. Yes, a few followed me when I spoke, but some needed to see me demonstrate a technique before they could visualize it, while others had to learn by doing and fail a few times before they got it quite right. I began to develop PowerPoint slides for visual learners and instructional games for my tactile ones.

Once I began to improve as a culinary instructor, my students showed me how to go from showing people pity to offering true compassion. Pity can be enough if you just want to show a struggling student how to make a stock. It takes compassion to help a man take stock of himself and recognize he has real potential. To do that, I had to see potential in people I would have never expected to find. One of my first students was a middle-aged man who had just been released after 28 years in prison. Instead of being broken or angry, he was a constant source of upbeat energy and inspiration to his classmates—and to me. One day, I asked him how he stayed so relentlessly positive.

“I am a free man with many years to live,” he said. “And I choose to make the best of the time I have.”

Above all, my students have taught me about the power of choices. When many of these women and men were younger, they made choices that changed their lives forever. These choices led them to prison, or the streets, or into a life of addiction. But once they came to our kitchen, they made other life-changing choices: to listen, to learn, to resist temptation, to take personal responsibility. Those types of choices can be scary and can make a person feel awfully alone. To give them the confidence to stick with those decisions, I had to mirror that confidence and walk with them along their new path, step for step.

We all make mistakes. I made the mistake of walking into DC Central Kitchen and thinking I had all the answers. Instead, by forcing me to be a more creative, more compassionate teacher, my students gave me what I needed to succeed—and the confidence I needed to boldly call out the potential within them.

Class 91′s Darrell Wainwright: A Life Back On Track

, June 10th, 2013

Darrell Wainwright is a US Air Force veteran who served his country honorably. After getting out of the Air Force, he made some bad decisions. He spent most of his adult life addicted, and he’s been to prison so many times he doesn’t remember exactly how many. But that’s all in the past.

Earlier this year, Darrell was living in the New York Avenue homeless shelter looking for a way to get his life back on track permanently when he saw a flyer for DC Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training program. He applied, was accepted to Class 91, and, with DC Central Kitchen’s help, he moved into veterans’ housing.

14 weeks later on April 5, Darrell graduated from the program. On April 29, DC Central Kitchen hired him as a production cook. A few weeks ago, Darrell started his associate’s degree in hospitality management at the University of the District of Columbia.

Darrell isn’t an anomaly. DC Central Kitchen is bursting at the seams with stories of graduates like Darrell who have come to the Kitchen to get the tools they need to find their motivation, change their attitude, and rebuild the skills they need to get and keep a job.

Darrell says, “DC Central Kitchen isn’t just about cooking. It’s about changing your way of thinking.”

Donor Stories: Liam and Samantha Carey, ages 8 and 6

, January 23rd, 2013

Liam and Samantha Carey, ages 8 and 6, are aspiring chefs. When they were challenged by a family friend to make a difference in their community, the brother and sister duo turned their passion for cooking into a fundraiser for DC Central Kitchen. They spent eight months developing a cookbook with some of their favorite recipes including “Egg in a Hole” and “Grandma’s ‘Oh I Didn’t Know You Were Dropping By’ Pasta.” In December, their cookbook was finally finished and they sold it to family, friends and classmates.

Earlier this month Liam, Samantha, their mom Kate, and a group of their classmates came to visit DC Central Kitchen to share their cookbook and present the $877.65 that they raised. Liam explained why they chose to dedicate their cookbook to DC Central Kitchen, saying, “They give kids food. If they don’t have breakfast at home, then they get a good lunch at school.” Samantha added, “I want to help people who don’t have a house.”