Updates for Meal Production
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.
DCCK Opens New Baking Corner to Provide Healthy, Whole Grain Snacks and Baked Goods to 35 Afterschool Programs
On 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.
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