Since our founding in 1989, DC Central Kitchen has prepared 25 million meals for our low-income and at-risk neighbors in Washington, DC. That’s a lot of meals – but don’t mistake us for a soup kitchen.
The 5,000 meals we dish out every day are loaded into our fleet of trucks and distributed at little or no cost to 100 nearby homeless shelters, transitional homes, and nonprofit organizations, saving them money and nourishing their clients.
Most importantly, our meals go out with a message: in our main kitchen, we offer a rigorous Culinary Job Training program for unemployed men and women who want to replace homelessness, addiction, and incarceration with new careers and changed lives. We know food can do so much more than fill stomachs:
Our mission is to use food as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities.
This core of meal distribution and job training fuels a host of other innovative programs at DC Central Kitchen that fight poverty, hunger, and poor health. Our Food Recycling program helps us turn tons of leftover, surplus food into thousands of balanced meals every day. And each morning, our First Helping team hits the streets to provide warm meals and social services to chronically homeless residents of DC’s Wards 7 and 8.
To help fund these programs and create good jobs for our culinary graduates, we’re breaking new ground in the world of social enterprise. Our School Food Program serves 4,200 healthy, locally-sourced, scratch-cooked meals to 2,000 low-income DC schoolchildren every day, proving that school meals can be nutritious, affordable, and sustainable all at once. And our Healthy Corners program delivers fresh produce and healthy snacks to 30 corner stores in DC’s ‘food deserts,’ where access to nutritious food options is limited. Our smart, business-like approach to doing good allowed us to earn more than half of our income through social enterprise.
And the success of this model isn’t limited to the District of Columbia. Through the Campus Kitchens Project, we empower 5,000 student volunteers every year to implement our model in 31 communities across America. At DC Central Kitchen, we believe waste is wrong – whether it’s leftover food, local produce, or human potential. We know our community already has everything it needs to defeat hunger, poverty, and poor health: resources, commitment, creativity, and YOU.