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 best DCCK grad story of the year

, July 29th, 2015

Earl pass web story photo

We’ve been sharing a lot recently about our 100th graduation and DCCK’s role as job creators in our community. Graduations are inspiring for lots of reasons, not just because of what the day represents for the men and women who complete the program. In the days that followed our 100th graduation, one notably inspiring story made its way around the organization.

Earl was a student of Class 100 who came to DCCK from a halfway house after spending 13 years in prison. You can’t miss him in a room — over 6 feet tall with a big build and a long beard, Earl’s smile is genuine and disarming. After incarceration, he was committed to making a career as a cook, and he approached our Culinary Job Training Program with diligence and enthusiasm. You could find Earl at any event that called for Class 100 student volunteers. In June, he even took to the outdoor grills at the Lamb Jam, a tasting event and competition that brings together talented chefs to compete for the Best Lamb Dish, to help one of the chefs keep up with demand at his tasting booth.

To commemorate our 100th graduation, DCCK was fortunate enough to receive a matching pledge of $10,000 from past and current board members, with a goal of raising another $10,000 in donations both at the ceremony and online in the days that followed.

That afternoon, Earl’s family was seated comfortably in the front row. His mother, easily recognizable given her similarly identifiable smile, was emotional before the ceremony got underway. After the announcement of our board match at the ceremony, several guests handed reply envelopes with their gifts to members of DCCK’s Development team.

A few hours later, our donor relations manager came across one particular envelope that contained a $100 bill and a short, handwritten note. “I’ve been carrying around this lucky $100 for 13 years,” the note said. “I don’t need it anymore.”

The note and generous gift was from Earl’s mother. She held on to that bill the entire time Earl was incarcerated, and on the day of his graduation from DC Central Kitchen, Earl’s mother passed on that luck to the men and women who will come to DCCK after him.

Of all of the gifts we received that day, this is the one that matters most. Earl is now employed full-time, making a living wage of $14.05/hour with full benefits as a cook at DC Central Kitchen. While we’ll never know how much luck that $100 provided, Earl’s hard work and dedication made for plenty of luck on its own.  Earl has a job, a family he can spend time with, and a mother whose love for her son is truly unwavering. She retired last week, at a party attended by Earl’s culinary instructors; ending her career the same week Earl launched his.

Thank you to everyone who made a gift in honor of our 100th class. It is a milestone that represents years of hard work and changed lives for over 1,000 men and women who have come through DCCK since 1990.

To Earl’s mother – thank you for believing in your son and for supporting DC Central Kitchen through this heartfelt and generous gift.

Join DCCK on June 4 for #DoMore24

, May 19th, 2015

Website Do More

As a proud member of the United Way of the National Capital Area, DC Central Kitchen will again participate in the third annual Do More 24 fundraiser on Thursday, June 4. This one-day fundraiser is a local movement that encourages our community to contribute to local causes and organizations to solve our region’s most pressing challenges. More than 500 nonprofits that serve in D.C., Maryland and Virginia will participate this year.

There are several ways you can get involved and support DC Central Kitchen’s Do More 24 campaign:

1. Donate.  Visit our dedicated fundraising page. We’re hoping to raise $10,000 – the cost to support one student through our life-changing Culinary Job Training program.

2. Come to our event! On Thursday, June 4 from 5-7pm, DCCK will host our very own #DoMore24 happy hour at the Gordon Biersch located in Gallery Place (900 F Street, NW). Enjoy free passed appetizers and proceeds from the “charity keg” benefit the campaign. Come get some free swag, eat and drink with friends, and support Do More 24!

3. Tell your friends! Invite your personal networks to join us on June 4! The more the merrier.

3. Keep following us! While we’re on several social platforms, most of our #DoMore24 updates will live on Twitter. Retweets welcome!

As always, thank you for supporting DC Central Kitchen. We hope you’ll join us on June 4 and give where you live.




DCCK helps kick off 20th season of the USDA’s Farmers Market

, May 4th, 2015


On Friday, DC Central Kitchen joined Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Anne Alonzo at the opening ceremony of the USDA Farmers Market. Located near the National Mall on 12th Street and Independence Ave SW, the market now includes more than 30 vendors and is open every Friday from 9am to 2pm through October 30, 2015.

The USDA Farmers Market plays an important role in creating economic opportunities for local farmers, and DCCK was honored to be a part of this event that celebrated that relationship. In the last fiscal year alone, DCCK invested $153,378 in local farms by purchasing more than 200,000 pounds of produce for our meals.

In addition to our local purchasing power, DCCK often gleans from DC area Farmers Markets, collecting leftover produce and unsold product that we can process with the help of volunteers in our industrial kitchen located just blocks from the United States Capitol. We will continue to glean product from the USDA Farmers Market this year as well.

To commemorate our longstanding relationship between DC Central Kitchen and the USDA Farmers Market, returning vendor Great Harvest Bread donated 100 loaves of honey whole wheat bread to DCCK after the opening ceremony.

If you haven’t checked out the stands at 12th and Independence, be sure to drop this season and support our local farmers!


Our supporters helped raise $55,000 for a new Healthy Corners delivery truck!

, March 23rd, 2015

Thank you for supporting DCCK!

With the help of many generous donors, we met our goal to purchase a new delivery truck!


DC Central Kitchen’s one-of-a-kind Healthy Corners program more than doubled the number of locations last summer from 28 stores to 67. To keep up with our growing delivery routes, we drafted an aging, unrefrigerated van into service and made do. But with summer approaching, we needed help to buy a truck that could keep produce cool and looking good despite Washington, DC’s brutal heat and humidity.

We needed the new refrigerated delivery truck to meet the incredible demand for fresh fruits and vegetables among DC residents in low-income neighborhoods costs $55,000. To help us reach our goal, the Carter and Melissa Cafritz Charitable Trust  issued a $15,000 matching grant which we met on Friday, April 10! Their support brought us to our goal of $55,000!

Thanks to the support of our generous donors, we are able to purchase a new truck that will bring affordable fruits and vegetables to our neighbors who rely on Healthy Corners for access to nutritious foods.

Our Healthy Corners program launched in 2011 with the goal of bringing affordable, high-quality produce and nutritious snacks to corner stores in Washington, DC’s ‘food deserts.’ These are parts of the city where widespread poverty and underdevelopment mean that residents have limited or no access to grocery stores, farmers’ markets, or other providers of healthy food. 71% of residents of DC’s food deserts are overweight or obese and 15% have diabetes.

We wanted our neighbors to have healthy choices. So Healthy Corners teamed up with small corner stores to give them the training, refrigerators, and heavily discounted wholesale deliveries of nutritious food they needed to finally sell healthy options at prices their customers could afford. And the community responded, purchasing 141,368 healthy items in 2014! A second refrigerated truck will allow us to deliver 104,000 additional items to participating corner stores in 2015.

And a new truck will allow us to do more than just keep food fresh in transit. With a second truck available, we can make smaller, twice-weekly deliveries to stores we currently visit just once a week. That means more appealing fruits and vegetables on the shelf, less waste of overripe produce, and more nourishing foods purchased.

Because of you, we raised enough funds to help purchase a new refrigerated delivery truck for Healthy Corners. We’ll be ready for summer deliveries and can continue to ensure our neighbors have access to healthy, affordable food. Thank you for supporting DC Central Kitchen! 


Class 99 suits up for success

, March 18th, 2015

WC 2

On March 4 Culinary Job Training Class 99 visited longtime DCCK partner, A Wider Circle. The organization located in Silver Spring, MD furnishes the homes of more than 4,000 families a year and provides unlimited professional attire and accessories for those in need. With graduation and upcoming job interviews around the corner, we took the men of Class 99 to A Wider Circle to experience the tangible capstone of becoming a professional – bringing home a suit.

DC Central Kitchen and A Wider Circle have maintained a strong partnership for years. Their professional attire showroom not only includes a personal shopper to help our graduates find the right style for their personality, but the organization has also been relied upon to help our graduates find furniture for their first home. The partnership exemplifies good business for nonprofits. We’re able to focus on skilled culinary training while providing A Wider Circle with clients who are ready to use furnishings and clothing as they become self-sufficient and take on the next chapter of their lives.

DCCK Outreach Specialist Jeff Rustin says: “One thing I love about this partnership is that it really helps our students move in the right direction. They are deserving of this kind of attire and once they put it on, you can see their confidence in their smiles and the way they carry themselves.”

We’re suiting up our graduates in more ways than one. We’re preparing them for their future and a path of stability. Our dual classroom focus on personal empowerment and culinary skills is further supported by a guided job search process and mock interviews conducted by our workforce development team. Last year at DCCK we saw 96 students graduate with a 93% job placement rate. We’re proud of what our students accomplish, and it wouldn’t be possible without the wraparound services and support we receive from partners like A Wider Circle.

Come join us at Class 99′s graduation at 2pm on April 10 at the US Navy Memorial & Heritage Center to see these motivated men and women dressed to impress for their new lives ahead!

25 Years Without DCCK Looks Like This…

, December 8th, 2014

2014_dcck_annual_final_cjt_mg_9365Earlier this month, a DC Central Kitchen staff member was speaking to a class of graduate students at one of the universities here in Washington, DC. That’s something we’re asked to do fairly often as a national leader in food recovery, social enterprise, job training, and more recently, combating urban food deserts.

But this time a student asked a question that truly resonated with us: “What would our community look like if DC Central Kitchen had never opened?”

It’s a question we’ve thought about a lot over the past few days as DC Central Kitchen’s 25th year comes to a close. As we ask you to support our work once again, it’s a question we want to try to answer for you:

Your gift does so much more than just provide a meal.Your support shatters stereotypes, saves our community money, creates jobs, and most importantly, changes the way our community fights hunger and breaks the cycle of poverty.

Your investment in us has made our community measurably stronger in the past 25 years. Please make your gift to DC Central Kitchen today.

Thank you for being a partner in our work.