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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Class 102 grad employed full-time at high-end bistro, Ris

, January 27th, 2016

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We love it when DCCK grads find jobs. We love it even more when grads find mentors at their place of employment. That is exactly what’s happened for recent class 102 graduate, Takia Jenkins. Takia graduated on January 5th, and just last week was hired to work full-time at Ris, the upscale neighborhood restaurant owned by former DCCK board member, Chef Ris Lacoste.

Takia’s life hasn’t been easy, but she came to DCCK ready to work and ready to make a change.  She worked hard – every day impressing her peers, chef instructors, and DCCK staff alike. DC Central Kitchen Production Manager William Ferrell remembers saying about Takia: “This girl can work. Any time Class 102 is in the kitchen, send her to me.”

When Chef Ris met Takia at this year’s Capital Food Fight, she knew she had met someone special. She asked Culinary Job Training Director Marianne Ali to introduce her after seeing Takia’s take-charge personality and positive attitude working the Tyson Foods booth at the event. Afterwards, Ali recalls: “Chef Ris told Takia that she wanted to set up a time to meet with her and gave Takia her contact information. I hugged Ris and thanked her, and Ris said, ‘no, thank you – I want this girl to work for me!’”

Takia finished her internship with The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, graduated from DCCK, and began working full-time at Ris on January 18th.

In a week when we’re doing so much to promote and prepare for our foodie fundraiser Sips & Suppers, outstanding gourmet chefs in every kitchen of our DC restaurant and hospitality partners are providing jobs and internships for our students and supporting DCCK year-round. Thank you for all you do to support DCCK!



Not even a blizzard can stop us

, January 27th, 2016

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You’ve heard us say before that DC Central Kitchen never closes – and we don’t. During Storm Jonas, our staff and volunteers went beyond our normal meal commitments last weekend to provide more than 20,000 healthy meals and snacks for our neighbors in need. Friday through Saturday, our kitchen was open and in full operation.

On Saturday during the height of the blizzard, the Red Cross contacted us to provide 400 meals for an emergency shelter. We jumped into high gear and prepared not only a hot meal for Saturday night, but thanks to a generous donation from the Capital Area Food Bank of 25,000 KIND Bars, were also able send out healthy snacks for Sunday morning.

On Saturday night when our normal snow removal team suffered a broken snow plow, we worked with the Mayor’s office and District government to get our driveway cleared, while our staff recruited some fearless volunteers to help shovel out our trucks on Sunday morning. This team effort allowed us to deliver our regular meal count of 5,000 meals on Sunday afternoon.

Outside of the Kitchen, our annual two-day joint fundraiser with fellow nonprofit Martha’s Table, Sips & Suppers, was also scheduled to take place last weekend. Out of concern for the safety of our guests and partner restaurants, our team and the team at Martha’s Table acted quickly to postpone Saturday’s event and secure a new date for Sips, which will now take place this coming Saturday, January 30 at the Newseum. Most Suppers, which were scheduled to take place on Sunday evening at more than 30 homes throughout DC, will be rescheduled to a later date, and a select few hosts soldiered on and hosted the festive fine dining occasion at their homes despite the weather. We are incredibly grateful to our partner chefs who spend their own time and money to prepare for this event – and who have gone out of their way to keep their commitment to DCCK and Martha’s Table despite the date change.

Rain, sleet, snow, or shine, DC Central Kitchen never closes. We would not be able to continue our work to nourish our neighbors and provide hope for the hopeless if it weren’t for our dedicated staff, volunteers, and supporters. Thanks to our fellow #hungerfighters who stood by us to get the job done. Hunger doesn’t take a snow day. And, thanks to the support of so many in our community, neither do we.



DC Central Kitchen earns national school lunch award

, October 15th, 2015

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On Tuesday, DC Central Kitchen was presented with a Golden Carrot Award and a $2,015 grant from the Physicians Committee. The Golden Carrot Awards, established in 2004, recognizes food service teams in both public and private school districts doing exceptional work to improve the healthfulness of school lunches.

During the spring 2015 semester, DCCK participated in a plant-based pilot program at Walker Jones Education Campus – one of 10 schools served by DC Central Kitchen – where students were introduced to six different plant-based vegan entrées. The most popular meals—chili, pasta with chickpeas, barbecue tofu bites, and veggie burgers—will make their way into the regular lineup as daily vegetarian options at Walker Jones and in the nine other district schools where DC Central Kitchen is the food service provider.

“Providing students with exposure to new foods is always a fun challenge. We see students we first started working with as kindergartners now graduate as eighth graders with a new palate and appreciation for fresh, healthful foods.”- Katie Nash, R.D., L.D., School Food Program Manager, DC Central Kitchen

Receiving the Golden Carrot Award reinforces DC Central Kitchen’s unique approach to school food. Each of the more than 6,300 daily meals prepared for DC schoolchildren are made from scratch and contain at least two local ingredients. Our popular vegetable democracy taste tests, “Fresh Feature Fridays,” allow students vote on vegetables prepared their favorite way and see it on their lunch menu the following month.

At DC Central Kitchen, we are proving that healthy, scratch-cooked meals can be enjoyable for children, affordable for school districts, and valuable for teachers who need children to be nourished and focused.

To learn more about the Golden Carrot Awards visit HealthySchoolLunches.org.



Smart partnerships boost social enterprise revenue

, August 18th, 2015

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Over the last year, our catering business Fresh Start, has honed its focus on ongoing contracts with local businesses. These partnerships not only provide steady revenue for DC Central Kitchen, but also provide stable hours for our catering staff, all of whom are graduates of our Culinary Job Training program. These relationships with local businesses mean our operations never come to a standstill, even when one-time catering events are slow.

Here’s a snapshot of what we’re offering around town:

Ritz Carlton: Healthy granola bites, which the hotel offers as an in-room amenity for guests.

Good Food Market: Seasonal prepared foods for store customers, including salads, pasta salads, and meals like rice and beans, turkey meatloaf, and veggie lasagna in individual and family sized portions.

One Eight Distilling: Packaged nut mixes that the distillery sells as snacks during their weekend tour and tastings.



A summer soirée benefitting DCCK

, August 17th, 2015

Are you looking for an excuse to get outside and enjoy the last few weeks of summer? We’ve got you covered! Join DC Central Kitchen for happy hour at the Liaison Capitol Hill’s stunning rooftop pool & lounge on Thursday, August 27 from 6-8pm. Proceeds benefit DCCK!

Guests will enjoy tastes from Art and Soul, Cava Mezze, Centrolina, Mango Tree, and Captain Cookie; signature cocktails from two of DC’s top mixologists – Copycat Co.’s Devin Gong and Buffalo Bergen’s Gina Chersevani; beer generously donated by Caboose Brewing Company and Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, and live DJ entertainment.

Students from DC Central Kitchen’s current class of culinary trainees will also be serving up delicious bites prepared just for the occasion.

Tickets are $35 and can be purchased in advance here.

Check out this recent article from DCist to read how our Culinary Job Training program helps chronically unemployed men and women trade lives of poverty for empowerment and self-sufficiency.



14 weeks of training and a lifetime of change

, July 24th, 2015

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You may have been one of the 500 DC Central Kitchen supporters who came out to the Ronald Reagan Building on July 10 to witness our 100th class graduate from the Culinary Job Training Program. These men and women were visibly empowered by their experience to make a change in their lives, but what wasn’t demonstrated on that commemorative day was their success in applying their skills – in the kitchen and in life – to secure employment. As of July 24, more than half of Class 100 had secured jobs, with the remaining in the final stages of their job search – completing interviews and accepting offers.

DC Central Kitchen prepares our students for their future and helps create 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.

Current employers of Class 100 include Occasions Caterers, Le Pain Quotidien, MISFIT Juicery, Café Kindred, Calvary Women’s Services, Nando’s Peri-Peri, and DC Central Kitchen.