DC Central Kitchen, aka ‘DC Kitchens’: Combating Hunger, Creating Opportunity

I’m really enjoying my time in Washington, DC. Apart from restaurants that serve delicious food without packaging, I also had an opportunity to visit an organization called DC Central Kitchen. I first heard about them at a Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit at the University of Guelph this past February.

Although I missed the presentation about it, what I heard about the organization got me really stoked. DC Central Kitchen is doing revolutionary things – and they’ve been at since 1989. That’s almost thirty years.

Under the motto “Combating Hunger, Creating Opportunity” DC Central Kitchen does a few amazing things. They reduce food waste AND mobilize unemployed adults to find work.

When I say they reduce food waste I really mean it. Washington, DC is a large city. There are countless grocery stores, restaurants and other stores that sell food. That also means there is a lot of food that is wasted.

DC Central Kitchens takes that food and then turns it into some 5000 meals a day. That’s right – 5000 meals! The food is distributed to schools in disadvantaged areas, as well as other community service groups. The organization also offers catering in DC. They process some 3000 pounds of produce/food per day. That’s food that would otherwise be chucked. Instead, it’s being used to feed those in need.

When I walked into the kitchen, I was met by the smiling Angelo – a graduate of DC Kitchens culinary jobs training program – stirring a gigantic pot of cream sauce for raviolis. When we walked further on, two kitchen volunteers were opening up packages of expired raviolis, putting them into a giant container and then throwing the packages in the garbage. There was about to be one enormous serving of raviolis with cream sauce coming up! Boxes of totally fine broccoli also filled a counter, ready to be washed, cut and made into a meal somehow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was impressed. The other part of DC Central Kitchen’s inspiring work is their culinary jobs program. They believe that hunger doesn’t stop at providing enough to eat, jobs also have to be created. Through the culinary jobs program, participants spend 14 weeks learning how to work in a kitchen. To me it sounds like a culinary apprenticeship. They also have life skills training – an opportunity for them to reflect about where they’ve come from and where they would like to go.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So far program has affected the lives of 1400 women and men and, last year, an astonishing 93% of participants found work afterwards. Many have also become employed at DC Central Kitchen, where 160 work and 50 people volunteer per day. A total of 14000 people volunteer through the organization each year.

DC Central kitchens was founded by Robert Egger who has now moved to Los Angeles to start another similar social enterprise called LA Kitchen.

For more information about DC Kitchen, check out their site and this video here:

A special thank you to Erica Teti-Zilinskas for assisting with this story. 

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “DC Central Kitchen, aka ‘DC Kitchens’: Combating Hunger, Creating Opportunity

  1. I love this – food security is such a big problem nowadays and I’m glad to see nonprofits coming together to address it. With the higher cost of living, more and more families are needed aid and they need more nourishing food than simply canned products. I love how DC Kitchens is utilizing someone’s waste to help others. Great post

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is great! I often wonder what happens to all the wasted food in stores. This is a fantastic program! That must have been a nice experience for you to see what they are doing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kudos to people who care, amazing program, specially ” Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s