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 Abby Elsener

Fresh Feature Friday: Introducing Kids to New Foods

, October 26th, 2012

If you’ve caught some of our recent school lunch photos or taken a look at our menus, you may have noticed that we’ve boldly introduced menu items featuring foods kids “hate”: brussels sprouts, wheat bread stuffing, tabouleh, beets, black eyed peas, and whole grain bread pudding.

A Walker-Jones student tries beets for the first time.

But while school districts and parents have historically avoided serving these foods to children, students are practically licking their plates clean. What’s our secret?

We listen.

Through our new initiative Fresh Feature Friday, students participate in a taste-testing program in the cafeteria during lunch time. Katie Nash, our DC Public Schools Program Manager responsible for nutrition education and outreach, started Fresh Feature after noticing that when students didn’t recognize a food, they refused to eat it.

Each week, our kitchens prepare one fresh ingredient, like cauliflower or strawberries, three different ways. The taste tests have proven to be a fun way to introduce children to new foods, educate them about their benefits, and most importantly, find out what they like.

At DC Central Kitchen, we’re serious about food, and equally serious about serving people wholesome meals they want to eat. Student feedback is an important guide to our school food menus. It’s a straightforward guarantee that the students will enjoy the wholesome, scratch-cooked food we prepare.

Check out the editorial recently published in the Huffington Post by DC Central Kitchen’s CEO Mike Curtin addressing the backlash to healthy foods in public schools.

Jones Day staffers commemorate September 11th at DC Central Kitchen

, September 11th, 2012

Jones Day Volunteers at DC Central Kitchen
Located just two blocks from DC Central Kitchen’s main headquarters, we were thrilled to learn that Jones Day, an international law firm, had selected DC Central Kitchen as the beneficiary of their summer fundraising activities.

In a matter of weeks, Jones Day staff and attorneys raised an impressive $27,000 through an array of in-office auctions, competitions and even a karaoke sing-off.

But the generosity of the Jones Day crew didn’t end there. On the morning of September 11, 2012 – 25 Jones Day employees filed into DC Central Kitchen to take the day’s first volunteer shift to remember the day’s events.

Donning hairnets and rolling up their sleeves, the Jones Day volunteers chopped, peeled, marinated, and roasted in the hot, bustling kitchen.  While their intention was to commemorate the day’s events, the day of service also served to connect the Jones Day volunteers more closely with their local community.

Many Jones Day volunteers commented that they passed DC Central Kitchen on their way to work each morning and assumed it was just another soup kitchen. After spending the morning working side-by-side with Culinary Job Training students and graduates, they realized DC Central Kitchen is truly about empowerment.

President Obama, who commemorated the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks by volunteering at DC Central Kitchen with the entire First Family last year, wrote, “By joining together on this solemn anniversary, let us show that America’s sense of common purpose need not be a fleeting moment, but a lasting virtue — not just on one day, but every day.”

If you are inspired by Jones Day and are looking to get involved, contact Abby Elsener at to discuss fundraising opportunities for your organization or group.