DC Central Kitchen, Inc.

Rating: 4.76 stars   58 reviews

Issues: Job Training, Food, Homeless & Housing, Human Services

Location: 425 Second St. Nw Washington DC 20001 USA

Mission: DC Central Kitchen turns leftover food into millions of meals for thousands of at-risk individuals while offering nationally recognized culinary job training to adults overcoming homelessness, addiction, and incarceration. We use food as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities. 
Results: Since opening our doors twenty-one years ago, we have: • Served over 21 million meals—now in the amount of 4,500 each day—to our region’s hungry and homeless men, women, and children through our Food Recycling and Meal Distribution program. • Graduated nearly 800 once-homeless and hungry men and women from our Culinary Job Training program. Since the economic crisis of 2008, our graduates have attained a 94% job placement rate and seen their starting average hourly salary increase over our earlier trainees. • Engaged a daily average of 250 chronically homeless men and women through conversation and breakfast through our First Helping program, building relationships and connecting them with vital services. • Recruited hundreds of thousands of volunteers for the fight against hunger. Last year, 14,000 individuals donated their time and talents to our organization. • Replicated our model on the campuses of 26 colleges and high schools across America through our student-powered hunger relief program, The Campus Kitchens Project. Since 2001, CKP has recovered more than 1,000,000 pounds of food and served over 1,000,000 meals.
Target demographics: Our Meal Distribution program provides quality nutrition to 4,500 children, families, adults, and seniors each day. Recipients of our meals are clients of our 100 partner social service agencies, and thus represent a wide-cross section of our community, but all represent low-income and at-risk populations. Our Culinary Job Training students are unemployed adults working to overcome histories of substance abuse, incarceration, and homelessness. Nearly all are DC residents and approximately 80% of each class identify themselves as African-American. Our Healthy Returns program provides healthy meals and snacks, along with nutrition education, to low-income children in Washington, DC. Last year, 1,300 children benefited from Healthy Returns’ programming. Our First Helping street-level outreach program serves chronically homeless men and women in DC—specifically in downtown’s Golden Triangle District and Wards 7 and 8 east of the Anacostia River. Notably, we are the only outreach service working east of the river.
Direct beneficiaries per year: 10,000
Geographic areas served: Washington, DC
Programs: Our programs provide a comprehensive continuum of care to the people we serve. First, we provide breakfast, outreach, and counseling services to chronically homeless people living on the streets. Next we recycle 3,000 pounds of food each day, converting it into 4,500 meals we distribute to 100 shelters, transitional homes, and rehabilitation clinics throughout the DC area. These partner agencies then refer clients to our Culinary Job Training program, where they receive the tools to start new careers. We complete the empowerment process by employing our graduates in our full-service catering company or by placing them in full-time jobs at restaurants and hotels throughout the region. Today, we are expanding our operations, partnering with local farmers to procure fresh produce and begin new revenue-generating social enterprises.

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Community Reviews

Rating: 1 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

A group of 10 of us volunteered at DCCK in 2012. The staff was very rude and uninviting. We were yelled at a treated like they didn't want us there. The food we chopped was dirty. They do not wash or clean any of the vegetables before cooking! I couldn't believe that we were feeding people dirty vegetables. I will never volunteer at DCCK again.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

SHow pride in how the staff and voluteers are treated. I would also make sure that we are serving clean fruits and vegetables.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

No

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Somewhat badly

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 5 stars  

October 2006 my husband and I married. We employed "Fresh Start Catering," a part of the DCCK mission, to cater our wedding reception. It was our goal to use our event as a community service. All guests were asked to donate to a favorite charity in our honor in lieu of gifts, but I digress.

Fresh Start Catering teaches DCCK clients the skills necessary to succeed in the food business. The student staff who took care of our wedding reception were friendly, on time and professional. The food prepared by Fresh Start was attractive and delicious. From contracting their services to final clean up they were top notch and would compare favorably to any catering company. Our guests made rave reviews and asked us for referral information. We were so impressed that we've been supporting DCCK annually ever since.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Fresh Start Catering, the teaching arm of DCCK

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

From my observation they should keep on doing those things that they have done well.

What specific problem, purpose, priority, or project prompted your gift?

We chose DCCK Fresh Start Catering, a social service agency, to cater our wedding. We wanted as much of the money we spent to help our community.

Why did you make your donation at this time?

We support DCCK's mission each year.

What would you tell others about this organization?

They are a worthy organization that doesn't merely feed people, but mentors them to successful employment and self sufficiency.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Rating: 1 stars  

You don't desired any stars and should be very ashamed of yourself for the food that you prepare to Open Doors shelter. The rotten fruit with mold and it. Salad with rotten tomatoes. Meals with uncook rice and potatoes. The reporter that is doing a story about the food that should be thrown away instead of given to us. You are not going to get away with doing this because I am sure this will affect you donations.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

None

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

No

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Badly

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Rating: 5 stars  

My high schoolers had to do service hours for school, and when I learned about DC Central Kitchen, I thought it would be a good opportunity for them to not only fulfill a service requirement, but also realize WHY doing service hours is important. During our entire visit to DC Central, my children and I spoke about the importance of donating our time and resources to those less fortunate than us. It was also a good lead in to speak about the effects of drugs, not getting a good education, and growing up disadvantaged.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Young people that were down on their luck, whom we had encountered during a job fair, mentioned that DC Central Kitchen brought food to a food bank or distribution center that they frequented.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

NONE, I think they are well organized and their mission is clear.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I was impressed with the kitchen's cleanliness and the efficiency of the production prep work of food in the vegetable area. Steve the chef was very well organized and professional in instructing the volunteers to their tasks. I enjoyed giving back to society. I was humbled by the experience and plan to go back!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

witnessing the culinary expertise of the staff in providing for the homeless, who shouldn't slip through the cracks.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

None.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I have volunteered at DC Central Kitchen in 2010 January and 2009 january with a group of about 30 volunteers each time.


I will ove to go back to DC central Kitchen due to the professional attitude and mangement of the DC Central Kitchen Staff.

They teach our volunteers the value of food, Cleanliness and above all human dignity.
Looking forward to Volunteer this year also

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

in the way they provide assistance to the needy and homeless

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

none

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Rating: 5 stars  

DCCK is extremely well run. (I volunteer at DCCK pretty regularly during the evening shift.) Curtis Cunningham is an excellent addition to the supervisor team. Even if I arrive early, stations are set and things are ready to go. We get a lot done, too! DCCK staff are enthusiastic; they love what they do and it shows. And they are nice! I always feel my contribution is appreciated.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the joy it gives back to me in volunteering.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

not. It's great as is.

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Rating: 5 stars  

DCCK is a rarity among food charities: a vertical operation that tackles the food insecurity problem at multiple levels, and manages to get a meaningful degree of reuse out of its donated resources. Its food doesn't just go straight to the needy; it first drives a culinary training program for putting people back on the path to self-sufficiency with skills in hand. Every 16 weeks, another class of 25 students begins their journey. Those same people staff a fully-qualified and competitive catering program that increases both public awareness and funding for the program.

I'm hard-pressed to think of another charity that is structured with such elegant efficiency. And it works.

From a volunteer standpoint, they operate several well-organized and well-equipped prep shifts per week, conveniently scheduled, in a bustling and social setting. It's among the most fun I've had as a volunteer, and the high demand for the limited number of openings suggests that others would agree.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

...everyday dining; they've placed successful program graduates in restaurants throughout the area.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

...expand it to Baltimore.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

Ensure that knives and peelers are sharp :)

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

They are most known for the work they do preparing nearly 5000 meals for the homeless every day.

But their most important mission is a job training program through their kitchen. They have graduated more than 80 classes (of mostly ex-cons), given them job skills, life skills, help interviewing, and job placement in local restaurants and hotel kitchens.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Seeing the graduates of the program working in the kitchen, and at local restaurants.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

nothing - I can't imagine what they could be doing better.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Several friends and I (all high schoolers) wanted to give back to the community a little this summer by volunteering at DCCK. Our evening was well-organized, efficient, fun, and rewarding. While we chopped and peeled vegetables, it was wonderful to meet our truly fascinating fellow volunteers and get to know them.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-7-01

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