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.
Facebook Twitter Pinterist Flickr Vimeo

DC Central Kitchen

News for First Helping

, December 15th, 2013

First Helping Client Profile: Mr. Taylor

Mr. Taylor is breaking through poverty with the help of DCCK's First Helping Team, who is helping him gain crucial skills.

Mr. Taylor is breaking through poverty with the help of DCCK’s First Helping Team, who are helping him gain crucial skills to find a job.

Every morning, Monday through Friday, DC Central Kitchen’s First Helping outreach team sets up at the corner of Benning Road and Minnesota Avenue – a neighborhood no other homeless outreach group visits. Most days, about thirty men and women will come out for a cup of coffee, a sandwich and if they’re ready for it, a conversation about how to overcome the obstacles they’re facing.

Mr. Taylor started visiting First Helping’s table for the free food. But now he’s on track to find work.

I did ten years in the penitentiary and this is helping me catch up on a lot of the things I missed. The computer class is helping me find jobs and helping me get back into learning how to use the internet.
- Mr. Taylor

In addition to helping clients identify job opportunities, First Helping now also provides computer training classes at DC Central Kitchen’s new computer lab. Mr. Taylor hopes that his computer training will improve his job propects. He’s receiving SSI for a disability right now, and would like to improve his computer skills so he can find a job.

First Helping is helping me do something positive with my life so I am not out on the street committing a crime.
- Mr. Taylor

, October 24th, 2013

Food Day: 8 Ways We Use Food To Change Lives

Today is Food Day, a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Here are 8 ways we’re using the power of food to change lives.

Combating Food Waste
Every day, DC Central Kitchen transforms 3,000 pounds of food into 5,000 meals that are distributed to local nonprofits serving at-risk populations and low income men and women. Last year, this saved the community over $3.6 million by transforming those leftovers into 2 million balanced meals.

Changing Lives through Culinary Job Training
Here at DC Central Kitchen, we believe that food not only nourishes bodies, but also minds, by creating opportunities to break the cycle of poverty. Through our 14 week Culinary Job Training Program, we’re shortening the line of the city’s hungry people and creating jobs for unemployed men and women in the food and hospitality industry.

Breaking through Nutritional Barriers with Healthy School Food
We’re serving 4,800 healthy, scratch-cooked breakfasts, lunches, and suppers every day at 9 DC schools. At the schools, we’re not just serving food but also changing eating habits and educating kids about nutrition. We’re teaching kids about how to eat healthier and how they can bring those healthy habits home.

Defeating Food Deserts with Healthy Corner Stores
Through our partnership with 32 DC corner stores, we’ve developed a new model to provide affordable fresh produce and healthy snacks for communities lacking sufficient access to nutritious food. Healthy Corners is the only program of its kind nationwide.

Resisting a Recession and Federal Shutdown
While Congress was squabbling over the budget and shutting down government services, DC Central Kitchen served over 80,000 meals to 88 local nonprofits and 60,000 meals to 9 DC Schools. Our meals saved those local nonprofits over $156,000, which they reinvested into unique programs serving their clients. DC Central Kitchen also creates jobs for its culinary graduates, and has hired over 60 men and women to produce our healthy and scratch-cooked meals.

Investing in Local Farms
Last year, we invested $156,523 in local farms by buying their produce and meat products, giving those farmers a crucial role in our work to combat hunger and poor health in DC by providing their healthy produce for our scratch-cooked meals.

Providing Street Outreach with First Helping
Every morning, DC Central Kitchen’s First Helping Outreach Team serves hot breakfasts at 3 sites around the city while connecting over 100 chronically homeless men and women to crucial services including drug rehabilitation, job placement, skills training, and transitional housing.

Partnering with the Restaurant Industry
DC Central Kitchen partners with hundreds of restaurants each year. Our city’s restaurants and chefs host our Culinary Job Training students as interns in their kitchens and teach special lessons. They also team up with us for great fundraising events, like the upcoming Capital Food Fight which will bring over 75 of our restaurant partners together to support DC Central Kitchen.

, July 18th, 2013

First Helping Beats The Heat


Earlier today: Tammy Parker beating the heat with help from First Helping

If you live here in Washington, DC or just watch the news, you know this week’s high heat and heavy humidity hasn’t been easy for anyone.

But for men, women, and families who are homeless and spend the daytime hours on the street when shelters are closed, this heat is more than uncomfortable – it’s downright dangerous.

Today, DC Central Kitchen outreach workers Jeff Rustin and James Weeks are out on the streets, providing care packages of food and water to stave off the sun. This isn’t the first time our staff have taken on tough weather to make a difference in people’s lives. Whether it’s back-to-back blizzards, powerful hurricanes, or brutal heat waves, DC Central Kitchen operates 365 days a year. 

When our community needs us most, DC Central Kitchen is open and on the front lines providing healthy meals and crucial programs that break the cycle of poverty. “Whatever we need they help us get it. You can’t find help like that anywhere else,” says Tammy Parker, a First Helping client, pictured in the photo above. Supporters like you empower our staff to act decisively when sudden changes affect our community. A local foundation has pledged to match all of today’s contributions to our First Helping Street Outreach program. If you want to help someone who’s living on the street and suffering in the heat, you can double your impact by making a gift today.

, June 13th, 2013

5 Ways We Work With Other Nonprofits To Make Change


James Weeks of our street outreach team helps refer chronically homeless clients to crucial services provided by over 30 nonprofit partners.

DC Central Kitchen doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We are aware that other nonprofits are out there doing important work to make change. This is why we’re always trying to build connections with those programs. Here are some of the partnerships we’ve built:

Meal Distribution
We’ve partnered with 88 nonprofits around DC to provide 5,000 balanced meals every day. The nonprofits receiving our meals reinvest the money we save them back into their unique programming where it can make an even greater impact.

First Helping
Through our street outreach program, we’re using over 180 balanced meals each day to engage hundreds of chronically homeless men and women with crucial services provided by over 30 nonprofit partners, who can offer the next step on the road to recovery. Last year, our outreach team referred 59 of those clients to stable housing.

Culinary Job Training
The majority of students in our Culinary Job Training Program are referred to us from other nonprofits. As students work their way through the course, we ensure they still have access to the crucial social services provided by our nonprofit partners so they can stay committed to their studies.

Healthy School Food
We’re excited to be part of the DC Farm to School Network, where we work with nonprofits like the DC Greens to educate and connect D.C. schoolchildren with the sources of their food by creating experiential learning opportunities such as chef demonstrations, farmer visits, and taste tests. This effort is crucial to empowering kids to eat healthier.

Funds for Programming
We can’t forget Martha’s Table and the United Way of the National Capital Area, who we just partnered with to raise funds to fight hunger through the United Way’s Do More 24 event. We’ve also joined Martha’s Table for the past 4 years to promote Sips & Suppers, a celebration of food and community that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for both organizations.

, April 1st, 2013

March a Breakthrough Month for First Helping

First Helping

March was a month of breakthroughs and new chapters for First Helping clients. Some of clients who we have been engaging for a long time on the streets opened up to receive some additional support.

Take for example a man named Maurice, who spent 27 years in prison, and then came home in 2010 with no support system. He came to First Helping’s feeding site every day for a meal and began to develop a relationship with our outreach team. Maurice was a client that was often seen, but never heard. He always stayed to himself and very seldom spoke.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Maurice revealed to First Helping that he suffered from a drinking problem, and feared that if he didn’t get into a treatment program he would return back to prison to finish up his time on parole until 2024. Maurice had his clothes in hand and was ready restart his life that day, and the First Helping team was able to get him into a treatment program.

Check out some of our other First Helping successes from last month:

Substance Abuse

Outpatient Mental Health Linkages



United Way Charity Navigator

DC Central Kitchen

425 2nd St NW, Washington, DC 20001 (Near Union Station)
United Way# 8233, CFC# 67538
EmploymentDirectionsPrivacy PolicyContact Us