Sign-up for Our Email Newsletter
News for Staff Profiles
For the past two years, Stephen Kendall has handled all raw food, beverages, and paper goods purchased and donated for meal production at DC Central Kitchen. We interviewed Stephen about his important role as procurement manager and the fruitful partnerships he’s built to acquire more donated product for the Kitchen.
Q: What is the good news in your world?
Stephen: The good news for donations is that we continue to grow our fresh produce partnerships. Pretty much everything that we use for our Core Programs meals (shelters, social services, etc.) now comes donated. Our partners in the produce industry have really helped us increase these donations.
We’ve also built great partnerships with farmers and growers leading to some good gleaning trips this summer. We’ve acquired over 5,000 pounds of corn, cabbage, and greens from those trips.
For purchasing, now that we are back in the regular school year we are able to move lots more local produce.
Q: What are some of the challenges you face as DCCK’s procurement manager?
Stephen: The main challenges are the day to day changes in what is coming in and what is available. Every day is different and we’re often responding to donations, as well as purchasing opportunities, on short notice. Then you throw in factors like the weather (for gleaning and local agriculture), routing trucks etc. and things get more complicated.
There really isn’t a rule book for what we do. But, at the same time, that is what makes us such a dynamic, powerful organization. It is also what makes this job so fun. I owe a lot to our Kitchen Staff and Transportation Staff who work day in and day out to balance all of these factors and create efficiencies.
Q: What are the your goals for improving procurement at DC Central Kitchen?
Stephen: My two biggest goals are to continue to grow our local procurement and increase our donated product. I’m really interested in working strategically to replace non-local products with items grown, raised and/or produced regionally. The next phase for us is increasing our purchases of local proteins.
We’ve done some work with beef but I’d love to get into turkey (one of our biggest categories). There are some new challenges there but nothing we can’t look to overcome. For donated product, I’m also focusing on proteins. We’ve worked hard on product but there is more work to do capturing proteins.
Q: What inspires you about your position?
Stephen: I’m inspired by my coworkers – I mentioned transportation and kitchen staff, but really all our staff at all levels – and the work they do to empower students, clients, and volunteers.
My role is to capture the tool – food – and I’m inspired to find the best tools I can to serve that process. I’m inspired by the people in the community who help make that possible – donors, growers, vendors. I’m also really passionate about combating food waste.