Second Helping was piloted in July 2014 as a refocused effort of the original program called ‘First Helping.’
First Helping was intended to use food as a tool to engage men and women living on the streets with a hot meal and the chance to work with DCCK case managers who could connect them to social services that would get them back on their feet. However, in reality, many clients were content to receive a free daily meal without engaging with our outreach workers in any meaningful way. In 2014, DC Central Kitchen strategically refocused its resources – including staff time, food, and dollars – to ensure they were deployed in ways that offered maximum impact. The street outreach component has been phased out, and our First Helping outreach workers are now working with our Culinary Job Training program, charged with recruiting at-risk applicants and providing enrolled students with case management services that will improve our program retention and graduation rates.
The new iteration of the program, Second Helping, provides free grocery bundles packed with fresh, local produce to graduates of our Culinary Job Training program. This is a strategic investment of our food resources in people who have proven their commitment to achieving self-sufficiency by completing our program. These free bundles will also allow us to keep in regular contact with DCCK graduates, enhancing our evaluation activities and allowing us to provide ongoing social services and job retention (or, if needed, replacement) assistance to our former students.