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. This is why for the past few years, we’ve prepared nearly 6,300 healthy, scratch-cooked breakfasts, lunches, and suppers each day for low-income children at 10 public and private schools in Washington, DC. Our schools are located primarily in Wards 7 and 8, home to DC’s highest rates of poverty, unemployment, and obesity. In addition to providing meals, we are providing cooking demonstrations, taste tests, and nutrition education lessons for the students and staff at the schools.
We also work closely with dozens of small, local farmers to ensure that more than 30% of all the food items we purchase are grown nearby, reducing our environmental impact and reinvesting in our area economy. With each meal we serve, there are at least two local ingredients on the menu.
And like all DC Central Kitchen programs, our school food initiative offers meaningful employment for graduates of our Culinary Job Training Program. Our school contracts now employ over 35 men and women with histories of hardship at living wages. They have become relatable mentors to children facing serious barriers to educational and economic success, leading after school cooking programs and inspiring them to make healthy choices. The Healthy School Food program is also DC Central Kitchen’s largest social enterprise, providing a sustainable source of revenue for our programs.
In the last academic year:
- 876,000 healthy meals served to 3,200 students
- 10 public and private schools in low-income neighborhoods of Washington, DC
- $155,000 invested in local farms