Updates for Meal Production
In late spring, DC Central Kitchen Volunteer Manager Pertula George-Redd introduced a new, interactive volunteer orientation. With 15,000 volunteers working at the Kitchen each year, the orientation is a powerful way to share why our mission and our work is so important.
“A lot of volunteers don’t know that much about hunger in DC or how DC Central Kitchen’s programs are helping. I think volunteers want to learn more, and find out where and how they can help. That’s why it’s so important to really discuss what their work in the kitchen means.”
There are two orientation activities, each designed to stimulate a meaningful discussion about hunger and poverty in DC. In one activity, volunteers read a card with a statement like, “stand up if you had breakfast this morning,” and on the opposite side of the card is a statistic about food insecurity. In the other activity, volunteers are asked to consider what expenses they would cut based on a specific low-income family scenario and budget.
One volunteer wrote in a follow-up survey, “I really enjoyed the orientation, and the cards helped [me] gain a better appreciation of the very real issues facing those less fortunate in our community.” Both activities are simple ways to get volunteers to learn about and better relate to the challenges low income Americans face trying to make ends meet. The orientation activities provide a much needed a desired context for the work each volunteer does in the kitchen.
A simple change like this can have a tremendous impact on the community when volunteers leave the kitchen better informed about the very real issues of hunger and poverty, and also filled with the efficacy to take action to help strengthen our community.
Check out our new volunteer orientation yourself by signing yourself (or a group of friends or co-workers) up for a volunteer shift: www.dccentralkitchen.org/volunteer.
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:
- Close the Meals Gap. Every day, we produce 5,000 meals for 88 partner agencies and nonprofits, of which 25% are subsidized by the programs that receive them. Additional funds here would dramatically improve meal quality, allow us to provide more tailored, suitable options to partner agencies (for vegetarians, seniors, or specific ethnic groups) and, if necessary, increase the quantity of what we prepare.
- Provide Transitional Employment and Job Retention Support. Some of our culinary graduates have been hit hard by employers who have cut back their hours. Others are caught in a trap between leaving welfare behind and initially making enough at minimum wage jobs to pay rent and meet basic needs. Providing continued case management to our grads in the workplace and helping them maintain full-time employment will break the cycle of poverty.
- Build a Value-Added Production and Processing Line. Our Healthy Corners program is doubling in size to more than 60 participating stores this summer, and we’re hustling to keep up with growing demand for our nutritious products. Modern processing and packaging equipment will help us double our production of high-quality snacks and meal items for low-income consumers on the go.
- Pay Living Wages to Culinary Grads Employed at DCCK. DC’s living wage went up, rightfully, by more than a dollar this spring. We’re dedicated to meeting this standard without scaling back on staff—but this increase requires a $160,000 jump in our annual payroll. Investing in quality wages will reduce staff turnover, support productivity, and empower our graduates to build real, family-supporting careers. We will dedicate our evaluation team to measuring the programmatic impact of living wages in the coming year and reporting back on what these wages mean to at-risk individuals and families.
- Update Our Struggling IT Infrastructure. We’re doing the best we can with refurbished desktops, an outdated database, and spotty Internet connections. Fixing these shortcomings would dramatically improve our efficiency and drive dollars currently spent on chronic maintenance issues and bootstrapped solutions toward our social programs.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
We did it! Our donors mobilized on June 19th to support Cluck The Truck, our summer campaign to acquire the chicken we need for our meal programs. We are very grateful for all of the support, and because of YOU, we exceeded our $30,000 goal and can now buy enough chicken for a whole year! A special thanks to Tyson Foods for their sponsorship of this campaign and the Ronald Reagan Building, TCMA, and Aria Pizzeria for hosting our live event at the Woodrow Wilson Plaza.
Check out these new exciting 1 minute videos featuring our CEO and a staff graduate of our Culinary Job Training Program. Watch out for these this week on WJLA TV.
Intro with CEO Mike Curtin
Success Story with DCCK’s Terence Hill
Please select the option below that best applies to your food donation inquiry.
I’m ready to donate food.
Click this link to visit our food donation form if you’re ready to donate now.
I’d like to purchase much needed food items for your meals.
Click this link to visit our shopping cart to purchase much needed but rarely donated staples for our meals.
I’d like more info on food/in-kind donations or donation drives.
Click this link to visit the food donations and donation drives info page.
I’m a nonprofit/client agency inquiring about a food donation from DCCK.
Please visit our contact form and select “Nonprofit/Client Agency Inquiry” to submit a detailed question for our Client Agency team.
William Ferrell came to DC Central Kitchen in 2010 after being released from prison. He was looking for a second chance, and the opportunity to turn his culinary passion into a job. He found that chance through the Culinary Job Training program, and today, William is a supervisor at DC Central Kitchen who oversees the production of thousands of meals each day.
William figured he could make our meals for afterschool programs more nutritious and less costly by doing more baking on-site and relying less on packaged, processed foods.
He began experimenting with our second-hand baking equipment in a cramped corner of our dry goods pantry, and he has since developed a number of healthy, kid-friendly recipes. Items like his pumpkin bread, which calls for less sugar and three times the water of traditional recipes, have been huge hits at the 35 afterschool programs for low-income children that rely on our meals.
William has more healthy recipes up his sleeve, but we can’t produce these nutritious items in the quantities we need without the right tools.
This is your chance to help to upgrade our kitchen and prepare better food for kids.
Thanks to a challenge grant from the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, we’re already halfway to our fundraising goal to build this critical infrastructure, but we need your help to get the rest of the way.
Thanks for being a partner in our innovative solutions to combating hunger and promoting good health.