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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The Impact of Your Support

, November 12th, 2014

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“I never thought I would be in this position,” says Tarina Munlyn.

Five years ago, Tarina struggled with addiction and lived in the DC General homeless shelter. Today, she is in a vastly better position.

Tarina, a Culinary Job Training program graduate and a DC Central Kitchen staff member says, “I never thought I’d have a job, and get to give back to the community, and get to work with volunteers from all over the country every day.”

Tarina’s story is just one of many we could share to illustrate the impact our supporters like you make when they give to DC Central Kitchen’s work. It’s the story of one human life transformed through our innovative programs that combat hunger and create opportunity:

Tarina grew up in what she describes as “a drug-infested neighborhood” in Northeast DC. She began using drugs as a young woman, and eventually found herself at rock bottom, homeless, and struggling with her addiction.

After completing a drug rehabilitation program, Tarina met a DC Central Kitchen driver delivering meals to her shelter. The driver told her if she wanted to make a change, she should come to the Kitchen. Tarina enrolled in our Culinary Job Training program, graduated in 2010, and has had a steady living-wage job with full health benefits here at DCCK for four years.

Now, Tarina works in our Main Kitchen leading volunteers in the remarkable daily process of turning 3,000 pounds of recovered food into balanced meals. At the end of the day, Tarina goes home to her own apartment.

Tarina’s story is just one example of what supporters like you can make possible. Envision her story on the annual scale of the 100 men and women we train, the 1.8 million meals we serve, and the 750,000 pounds of food we save from going in the trash and then envision the impact you can make when you invest in DC Central Kitchen.

Your donation to DC Central Kitchen is an investment in our work to combat hunger and create opportunity.

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As a DC Central Kitchen supporter, you are part of an incredible process that distributes balanced meals around the city while empowering men and women to overcome obstacles like homelessness, addiction, incarceration, and chronic unemployment in our kitchen.

Thanks for investing in our work this holiday season!



Barbeque Fare Spices Things Up for DCCK

, August 27th, 2014

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At DC Central Kitchen, we always want the meals we provide to our partners to be nutritious, delicious and dignified. Barbeque food is something that our clients have requested before, but because our meals are created largely with recycled food, we haven’t been able to easily accommodate this simple summer request.

So, when our friends at the Liaison Capitol Hill and Art & Soul asked if they could donate 3000 hot dogs and hamburgers and come cook them, we jumped at the chance to provide meals that were not only going to be tasty and fun, but also met a preexisting request.

A linchpin to this culinary treat was Chef Derrick Wood, owner of Dyvine BBQ in Motion, who donated his impressive mobile grill and smoker for the day to help us create the authentic barbeque flavor. And, thanks to Art & Soul Executive Chef, Doug Alexander, Sous Chef Leo Ferrerio,and the volunteers from Liaison and Art & Soul, we prepped and barbequed 3000 hot dogs and hamburgers that were served with traditional favorites – baked beans, and coleslaw – to our partner agencies for dinner.

Big thanks to the chefs and our volunteers for sharing the food, your time, and your culinary talents that allowed us to provide an extra special summer meal for those in need.

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DCCK Opens New Baking Corner to Provide Healthy, Whole Grain Snacks and Baked Goods to 35 Afterschool Programs

, August 14th, 2014

Baking CornerOn August 7th we celebrated the official opening of DC Central Kitchen’s new Baking Corner! Thanks to key investments from our friends and partners, and a generous matching grant from the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, DCCK is able to bring our healthy baking program to fruition.

Back in April we announced DC Central Kitchen Production Manager William Ferrell’s concept for an innovative baking program at DCCK, for which he hoped to create healthy, whole grain snacks and breads for the afterschool programs we serve. William, who came to DC Central Kitchen in 2010 after being released from prison, was a student in our Culinary Job Training program and now serves on staff as a supervisor in the Kitchen. With a long held passion for baking, and a personal interest area for culinary growth, William realized he could make our snacks for afterschool programs more nutritious and less costly by doing more baking on-site and relying less on packaged, processed foods.

William creatively uses ingredients such as natural sweeteners and avocados to make traditional favorites, like banana bread and cheesecake, much healthier. For the Baking Corner opening, William shared samples of some of his original baked goods recipes, including pumpkin bread with lower sugar content, and whole wheat biscuits. Our guests indulged in his healthy treats while exploring some of the new  equipment purchased for the Baking Corner. Among several items that now make up this new space, William and his team have access to multiple stand mixers and special attachments, a proofing box to help bread rise, a wood work table for rolling dough, and lots of new baking pans.

We can only achieve our mission to use food as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities with the help of our many partners. Because of this support, William, his team, and the more than 15,000 volunteers that work in the Kitchen each year are now able to put his ideas into action by working in this space to create new, innovative snacks and healthy meal concepts for our partners. We’re excited to leverage the talent and passion of our culinary staff and dedicated volunteers to ensure that the afterschool programs for low-income children that rely on our meals receive healthy and nutritious snacks that fuel their minds and future success!

Join us at the Kitchen to check out this awesome new baking space and help put William’s brainchild into action.



DCCK Teams Up with Pioneering Aquaculture Researchers

, August 5th, 2014

Students learn how to break down fish

At DC Central Kitchen, we pride ourselves on running a complex, fast-paced operation that eliminates waste and brings healthy food to our community. So when our operations team walks into a facility that’s designed to do the same thing and walks out amazed, that’s saying something.

The Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology—IMET for short—is breaking new ground in marine and environmental research, pointing the way to a new, sustainable future for aquaculture. IMET’s operation raises high value marine fish in ideal, controlled conditions, nourishes them with eco-friendly food, and converts all the waste produced by the fish waste into methane, which in turn powers an in-house generator fueling the facility. Professor Yoni Zohar, head of IMET’s Aquaculture Research Center, explains “We grow the most delicious and healthy branzino in the most environmentally sustainable way possible, providing healthy seafood in a way that can now be scaled up and commercialized.” A tour of the operation this spring captured our team’s imagination.

“Once the fish are grown, they’ve served their purposes for research, and IMET has been selling their fish to high-end Baltimore restaurants,” said DCCK Procurement Manager Amy Bachman. “But IMET reached out to us because they wanted these fish to serve the community as well.”

“With food costs continuing to climb, donations of high-quality protein are tougher than ever to find,” reports DCCK Chief Operating Officer Andy Finke. “IMET’s support couldn’t have come at a better time for the people we serve.”

While IMET’s research is aimed at long-term change, their innovations have had an immediate impact at DC Central Kitchen.  On July 29, IMET generously donated 200 branzino, a European sea bass, to our Culinary Job Training Program, where they provided a week of incredible hands-on lessons. On Tuesday, our students sautéed the branzino with onions and olives. Wednesday afternoon saw renowned area chef Tim Ma of restaurants Maple Ave and Water & Wall—and a battling chef at this year’s Capital Food Fight—stop by to lead a tutorial on preparing a crispy branzino with fried rice. On Thursday and Friday, our students worked on sushi rolls and practiced recipes for ceviche, respectively.

This is the beginning of a beautiful fish friendship. Our culinary students will be touring the IMET facility later this fall, and we’ll be looking to recover more donations of lean, healthy protein in the coming months.

Do you want to contribute to DCCK’s food supply? Check out our food donation options!



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

, July 16th, 2014

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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 abutts@dccentralkitchen.org or 202-847-0221.



Angel Donor Wanted: What We’d Do with a Million Dollars

, July 7th, 2014

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So much of what we do at DC Central Kitchen is powered by lots of “small” contributions, whether they’re annual family donations, monthly recurring gifts, orders of our Fresh Start Catering boxed lunches, or purchases of our affordable, fresh produce in DC corner stores. These investments are our lifeblood—and very “big” in our book.

But today, we wanted to let everyone know that we’re looking for an angel donor.

We went to the DCCK whiteboard of innovative ideas and put together the best of what we’ve been putting off for lack of funds. These are projects we could start in a matter of weeks, not months or years. An investment of $1 million would allow us to accomplish the meaningful goals below, and sustain our long-term impact:

So, are you an angel donor? Do you know one? Help us spread the word about this powerful, immediate opportunity to invest in a proven social enterprise that is changing lives and empowering communities on an industrial scale.

Let’s find this angel donor, together!

For more information, email Alex Moore at amoore@dccentralkitchen.org.