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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DC Central Kitchen

Graduate Success Stories

, December 16th, 2013

Graduate Success Story: Class 92′s Lawrence Garnett

Class 92's Lawrence Garnett is now working for Glen’s Garden Market in Dupont Circle.

Class 92′s Lawrence Garnett is now working for Glen’s Garden Market in Dupont Circle.

Lawrence Garnett found hope through DC Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training Program, where he was able to transcend his past of incarceration and unemployment to find a stable career.

Lawrence graduated from Class 92 on July 12, 2013 and four months later he says that life couldn’t be better. He’s now working as a cook at Glen’s Garden Market, a locally sourced neighborhood grocery store and café near Dupont Circle where he can be found roasting potatoes and chickens, curing meats, and keeping the deli well stocked.

Voted the Most Valuable Player by his classmates, Lawrence has a supremely positive attitude and the enthusiasm about his work to match it. You can tell that he takes a lot of pride in what he does. Lawrence says that every day at Glen’s he hears coworkers and customers talk about how good his chicken and potatoes taste. He says that everything he does comes from his heart, so he really enjoys seeing customers getting excited about his food.

Though his time in the classroom may be over, Lawrence continues to learn new things on the job all the time. Most recently, he learned how to cure, cook and trim bison tongue, one of the many new products he’s been working with. Transferring his skills from the classroom environment to his employer’s kitchen has been a breeze for Lawrence. He says that he knew he came to the job with all the training he needed when his chef very quickly had him working weekends at Glen’s all by himself.

I’ve worked very hard to get to this new place in life and I just love it; things couldn’t be better.
- Lawrence Garnett, Class 92

Your generosity helps make our mission a reality. Lawrence is one of more than 1,200 DC Central Kitchen graduates who have overcome personal challenges and found real careers. We’re honored by your support. This holiday season, we hope you will choose to invest in our mission once more. Make a contribution today to support our work.

, June 25th, 2013

Richard McCray’s Path to Success

richardmccrayRichard McCray is advancing quickly in his new job managing The Burger Joint in Clarendon, Virginia. He owes all of his success to graduating from DC Central Kitchen’s first Arlington Culinary Job Training class four years ago.

McCray first heard about DC Central Kitchen upon being released from his seven year prison sentence in 2009. With nowhere else to go, he lived at a shelter, where extending one’s stay was contingent on finding employment. Desperate for any sort of employment, he decided to give the DCCK program a shot. While not particularly keen on cooking, something told McCray that he should take this opportunity. He enrolled in our program.

He stuck out the long hours of the program and graduated in November 2009. He says he benefited most from the life skills component of the course. For example, he learned how to deal with negativity from coworkers in a productive manner. “Kitchens have a lot of emotions and it can be frustrating. Growing up, my way of dealing with someone who was wrong was to punch him and make him see the right way. DCCK showed me there was another way,” said McCray.

So how does McCray deal with the stressful demands of the kitchen? “I try to have a laugh every day,” McCray replies. Richard McCray is enjoying his path to success, and we can’t wait to watch him grow.

, June 18th, 2013

Will Farrell: Leading Up Baking at DCCK

will farrellWill Farrell is one of DC Central Kitchen’s friendliest faces. A graduate of DC Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training Program, Will now works for DCCK as a culinary lead. He’s been doing great things leading meal production and working with volunteers. Now he’s using his knowledge to expand DCCK’s baking capacities.

While incarcerated, Will became a certified baker through the Department of Labor, and through this program, he realized how much he enjoyed baking and how good he was at it.

As a vegetarian, baking also suits him better than cooking. He hopes to use the hours of baking instruction he received in jail toward a degree in baking and the pastry arts.

For now, Will is using his baking knowledge to bake quick breads for healthy snacks in DC Public Schools. He has also been preparing biscuits and muffins for DCCK’s catering branch, and hopes to soon provide even more offerings. He has been sharing his knowledge about baking with other DCCK chefs, and we have been expanding our baking equipment in the kitchen with recent purchases including a mixer and baking pans. Will is certainly helping us up the ante of our baking in the Kitchen, and we look forward to seeing what else he has in store for us!

, June 10th, 2013

Class 91′s Darrell Wainwright: A Life Back On Track

Darrell Wainwright is a US Air Force veteran who served his country honorably. After getting out of the Air Force, he made some bad decisions. He spent most of his adult life addicted, and he’s been to prison so many times he doesn’t remember exactly how many. But that’s all in the past.

Earlier this year, Darrell was living in the New York Avenue homeless shelter looking for a way to get his life back on track permanently when he saw a flyer for DC Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training program. He applied, was accepted to Class 91, and, with DC Central Kitchen’s help, he moved into veterans’ housing.

14 weeks later on April 5, Darrell graduated from the program. On April 29, DC Central Kitchen hired him as a production cook. A few weeks ago, Darrell started his associate’s degree in hospitality management at the University of the District of Columbia.

Darrell isn’t an anomaly. DC Central Kitchen is bursting at the seams with stories of graduates like Darrell who have come to the Kitchen to get the tools they need to find their motivation, change their attitude, and rebuild the skills they need to get and keep a job.

Darrell says, “DC Central Kitchen isn’t just about cooking. It’s about changing your way of thinking.”

, November 17th, 2012

James Weeks: How I Found A New Beginning

Four years ago, I was hungry, homeless, and feeling hopeless. I heard about DC Central Kitchen’s white van on South Capitol Street that served meals. I found much more than breakfast. I found hope and a new beginning.

Today, I’m asking you to donate to DC Central Kitchen to change more lives.

An outreach worker told me about DC Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training program. I enrolled, and 14 weeks later I graduated with a food handlers’ license and a job.

Now I’m no longer standing in line waiting for a sandwich. From a hot, healthy meal to intensive training and finally a steady job, DC Central Kitchen has helped me completely turn my life around.

This April, DC Central Kitchen gave me a new opportunity: there was a job opening in the same street outreach program that gave me my new beginning. Today, I’m driving the white van every morning to help people like me get the services and support they need to change their lives.

I ask you to please make a donation today. Your gift buys an opportunity for the people like me who are ready to change, but need a hand getting out of the sandwich line and into the driver’s seat.

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