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 Shannon Simmons


Healthy Corners Opens New Store, Partners with Zenful Bites

, May 8th, 2014
Healthy Corners opens 35th Store

From the left: Jin Oh (Owner of Northeast Supermarket), Josephine Chu (Zenful Bites), Huan Song (DC Central Kitchen)

Healthy Corners is growing! We recently welcomed Northeast Supermarket on Mt. Olivet Road, NE as our 35th Healthy Corners store.

Jin Oh, the owner of Northeast Supermarket, says that she was interested in joining Healthy Corners for three reasons: convenience, good fresh products and good prices.

I want to be able to make sure that my customers have access to fruits and vegetables here in the neighborhood. I feel like everyone likes fresh foods and we need to have them here in our store. Your program makes that easy to do.
- Jin Oh

To introduce shoppers to the Healthy Corners program and products, our partners at Zenful Bites hosted an on-site cooking demonstration, serving up a broccoli, pepper and onion stir fry, handing out samples in the parking lot.

The stir fry was a crowd pleaser and customers were happy to learn that they could now find fresh ingredients like those used along with recipes for using them in their neighborhood store.
One enthusiastic customer helped draw reluctant friends and neighbors over to the demonstration, saying, “Come here and try this if you want to learn about eating the type of food that will help you stay healthy and watch your weight,” as she helped pass out samples.

This summer we will continue to open new stores each week. Stay tuned with the latest on Healthy Corners!



Healthy Corners Launches 33rd Store

, April 21st, 2014

DC Central Kitchen recently opened the 33rd Healthy Corners store at Capitol Food Mart, located on North Capitol Street, NE in the Stronghold neighborhood. Capitol Food Mart is two miles away from the closest grocery store, the Safeway on L St., NW, and many neighborhood residents do the bulk of their day to day shopping closer to home.

Huan Song, our Nutrition and Community Outreach Coordinator and Janell Walker, Director of Nutrition and Community Outreach were at Capitol Food Mart for the program launch introducing customers to Healthy Corners’ products and handing out samples of fresh grapes. Neighborhood shoppers who attended the grand opening were excited to see that they now have the opportunity to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables where they live.

This is my neighborhood store. I live just down the block. We really need a place to buy fresh fruits and vegetables here in the neighborhood. It’s great to see something like this starting up at Capitol Food Mart.
- Wendy, Regular Customer

Store owner Meb Gebrkidan isn’t new to the Healthy Corners program. His last store, Greenway Market, is also participating in Healthy Corners. When he sold that store and moved to Capitol Food Mart, he quickly noticed that many customers in the new neighborhood were asking for healthier options.

The people who come into this store are less interested in junk food options than customers I’ve had in the past. I want to make sure I’m able to provide them with the fresh products that they are looking for.
- Meb Gebrkidan, Owner of Capital Food Mart



New Dehydrator Prevents Food Waste, Provides Healthy Snacks

, April 7th, 2014

Dehydrator Reduces Food Waste
Thanks to our friends at the CoStar Group, we now have a dehydrator at our Nutrition Lab that allows us to extend the life of fruit that would otherwise go to waste while creating new options for our line of Healthy Corners snacks.

Terence Hill, a graduate of our 93rd Culinary Job Training class, has been experimenting with dehydrating a variety of fruits including apples, bananas and pineapples that are approaching their sell by date. Produce items that may only have a couple good days left in their fresh state can last for months when properly dehydrated.

Healthy Corners will be incorporating these dried fruits into new varieties of trail mix, one of our most popular products, as well as selling them as stand-alone snacks. Terence is hard at work perfecting these new items, and they will roll out in our participating corner stores this summer.

Thanks to the CoStar Group for helping us bring these new products to our stores!



Volunteers of The Month: Cardinal Health

, April 3rd, 2014

cardinal health 2
This week, employees from Cardinal Health, a medical supply company based in Dublin, Ohio made a generous donation of $10,000 to DC Central Kitchen while volunteering on the evening co-op shift. Conni Siegmund arranged for her group to volunteer while visiting DC to plan for an upcoming pharmaceutical trade show at National Harbor.

Conni explained that the group usually plans a fun team outing on trips like these, but that she was inspired to incorporate volunteer service into their evening after reading a fictional account of DC’s homeless population in John Grisham’s The Street Lawyer, which also mentions DC Central Kitchen. The idea was so popular with the other members of the planning committee that they will continue to seek out volunteer opportunities each year as they visit different cities to prepare for their events.

We thank Cardinal Health for their time and support. Visit dccentralkitchen.volunteerhub.com for the latest volunteer opportunities.



Combating Food Waste Through Healthy Corners

, March 21st, 2014
Fresh Cut Watermelon

Fresh Cut Watermelon is one of the latest “Grab and Go” items offered at participating Healthy Corners stores.

At DC Central Kitchen, we believe waste is wrong – whether it’s leftover food, local produce, or human potential. We’re always working to come up with unique approaches to combating waste and Healthy Corners has leveraged the power of food recycling and its relationships with local distributors to bring more affordable healthy snacks to DC’s low income communities.

Participating Healthy Corners stores are now selling fresh cut watermelon thanks to our relationship with Coastal Sunbelt Produce. During the fall and winter months, Coastal Sunbelt Producesources premium watermelon from abroad for upscale grocers, selling only the very innermost portion of the melon. The remaining layers of fresh edible watermelon were going to waste until they reached out to us to see if we would be interested in buying it at a reduced price. These perfectly edible, fresh, whole watermelons are completely intact, except for the core that was removed. Our Healthy Corners Team knew that fresh cut watermelon would be a perfect grab-and-go snack for sale in our corner stores.

Huan Song, DCCK’s Outreach Coordinator, tells us that fresh cut watermelon is very popular with customers. We’re excited to be able to offer a customer favorite at reduced prices during the off season.

The fresh cut watermelon is just one of our latest offerings through Healthy Corners. In the next few months, DCCK will be rolling out new healthy but affordable prepared snacks and meals packed with fresh produce to make it easier for families to eat healthier.



Providing Healthier Versions of Familiar Snacks

, March 20th, 2014
Better For You Brownies

Kids at Washington Jesuit Academy taste testing our new “Black Bean Brownie”, a healthier brownie to be offered through Healthy Corners.

Over the past three years DC Central Kitchen’s Healthy Corners has gained many loyal customers who visit their local corner store on regular basis to pick up an apple, banana or some cut fruit as a snack on the go.  While the display of fresh produce is a welcome site for many shoppers, plenty of customers continue to shop based on deeply ingrained eating habits developed over years, heading straight for shelf filled with honey buns, cookies and snack cakes.

DC Central Kitchen’s Janell Walker, a Registered Dietitian, is looking to lure these shoppers over to the Healthy Corners display with new, healthier snack options. The first addition to this new line of healthier snacks is black bean brownies, which are due to hit stores by the end of March.

I think of these healthier versions of popular snacks as a gateway to healthier eating. Customers who aren’t coming to the store looking for fresh produce need something that they are more familiar with to introduce them to the Healthy Corners product line. We’re meeting them in the middle. Janell Walker, DC Central Kitchen

The new better for you brownies are made with black beans, cocoa powder, oats, chocolate chips and maple syrup and have 115 calories per serving.

Last week, Huan Song, DCCK’s Outreach Coordinator, held a taste test at Washington Jesuit Academy to get feedback from students. Huan explains that at Healthy Corners product demonstrations, taste testers old and young are usually a little hesitant on the first bite.

So what did students think about the black bean brownies? One said “These are too good to be true!” Other students encouraged hesitant friends to take a bite, saying “taste it, it’s actually really good.” Of the 75 students who tasted the brownie bites, 68 said that they liked the taste of the brownie.

Now that the brownies have passed the taste test, you can look forward to seeing them on our Healthy Corners displays soon!