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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Employment Preparation & Procurement, Food, Food Programs, Homeless & Housing, Homeless Centers, Human Services, Job Training

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.

Community Stories

50 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

17

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It was an amazing experience. I was very impressed with the organization. The questions and answer session was so helpful and made me love the organization even more every answer i received. The volunteering went by so quickly. Everyone had a specific job and a person to answer their questions. It was wonderful.

18

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had a wonderful experience working in the prep kitchen. They were well prepared for us and well organized and there was plenty for everyone to do. About 20 of us worked for almost 3 hours after which I had made some new friends and felt like I had helped the community (and my own karma!)

19

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have loved my experience at DC Central Kitchen. From every level, DCCK has provided the best volunteer experience possible. The staff does a great job of explaining not only the specifics of everything that you are doing but also the inner workings of the organization and how we fit in. On a personal level though, the staff could not be more warm and friendly, including spontaneous outbreaks of dance to oldies music. I have worked at other non-profits before where I felt like I was doing something good, but before DC Central Kitchen I never felt like I was part of a team. They make the experience such that you never feel like you are volunteering your time but spending time with old friends and meeting new ones.

16

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have thoroughly enjoyed each of my volunteer shifts at DCCK. I feel like I'm doing something that directly impacts the community. I also really appreciate the things I learn from the kitchen staff (most of whom are graduates of the Central Kitchen's Culinary Job Training program). They make sure we volunteers are all working safely and in a sanitary way. The volunteer orientation is well-organized and gives a great overview of the programs that DCCK runs, as well as explaining what will go on during that particular shift and how it fits into the bigger picture.

18

Volunteer

Rating: 5

DC Central Kitchen is a great place to volunteer. It's fun and rewarding. You meet great people while helping people in need.

20

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After my daughter colunteered this past summer, we wanted to come see DCCK. She was so impressed with all that they accomplished that we as a family decided to support them financially and with more time. The rest of us came and cut peppers for chiliman. Everyone was so professional and kind. It was great to learn about all the organizations they support. [This review was collected at a site visit to DCCK and inputted by a GreatNonprofits intern.]

Previous Stories
20

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After my daughter colunteered this past summer, we wanted to come see DCCK. She was so impressed with all that they accomplished that we as a family decided to support them financially and with more time. The rest of us came and cut peppers for chiliman. Everyone was so professional and kind. It was great to learn about all the organizations they support.

19

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Having been in food service for numerous years, I found myself without a job and without my food handlers license. I had been exposed to DCCK several years prior and thought this would be the opportune time to avail myself of their services. At this juncture, so far so good.

19

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I came to DCCK for the first time July 2008 with the organization YouthWorks. I was immediately impressed with how efficiently the kitchen was running. I was taught how to cut vegetables in a timely manner and how to keep my workspace clean. It was very interesting to see a nonprofit organization impact so many organizations and individuals. I am 16 years old and hope to bring my friends and family to donate time to this organization.

19

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am currently a greatful student at DC Central Kitchen. I have learned alot and love the program. The hands on hands experience is something that I will treasure for the rest of my life. The staff is wonderful. You learn alot of things about the kitchen that you never would have learned on your own or in the world. For this to be a non profit organization they are very helpful and generous. I love to cook and to bake but never had any idea how many things I was doing wrong. I thank DC Central Kitchen from the bottom of my heart. If you love to cook and no one else will give you a chance this is the place to be. Not only for your self but for your future for your career not just a job. DC Central Kitchen is the best!