DC Central Kitchen, Inc.

Rating: 4.76 stars   59 reviews


425 Second St. Nw Washington DC 20001 USA


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. 


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:


Geographic areas served:

Washington, DC


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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Reviews for DC Central Kitchen, Inc.

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?


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