Since 1996, DC Central Kitchen has been a national leader in social enterprise, when we launched Fresh Start Catering to create jobs for Culinary Job Training graduates and generate revenue for programs.
When the economy collapsed in 2008, communities across the country needed direct service nonprofit organizations – and the food, shelter, health care, job training, and social support they provide – more then ever. But many nonprofits faced (or feared) serious funding shortfalls and reduced their services.
DC Central Kitchen was not among those nonprofits. We made a commitment to do more, not less. And to fulfill that promise, we chose to generate more of our revenue and reduce our reliance on charitable donations.
We made strategic improvements to our Fresh Start Catering company, took on new meal service contracts, and launched our landmark school food program. Our social enterprises are paying big dividends, as we increased our earned revenue. In fact, more than 60% of our annual budget now comes from social enterprise. More money has helped us take on more problems.
In 2011, for example, we started the Healthy Corners program, which distributes fresh produce and nutritious snacks to corner stores in low-income neighborhoods where healthy food is hard to find. And, most importantly, each of our social enterprise activities allows us to create good jobs for the unemployed, at-risk men and women who graduate from our Culinary Job Training program. Today, we employ over 60 of our culinary graduates at living wages with full benefits in positions that allow them to contribute to the well-being of our community.
The Capital’s Kitchen, The New York Times, January 15, 2012