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DC Central Kitchen, Inc.

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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

59 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a youth, I was shown to serve others to humble myself and be myself. I was giving a tour with the rest of my group of the charity and I had so many thoughts going through my head but the main thing was I felt so much joy being able to give others time, playing with the children, serving food to others and even doing some cleaning up. It changed me.It made me want to change other lifes.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 1

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.

Jan T

Donor

Rating: 5

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.

Client Served

Rating: 1

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

Board Member

Rating: 5

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

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

12

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Eight members of our company volunteered to help prepare meals at the DC Central Kitchen. We were all very impressed by the dedication, organization, humility and overall energy by those that run this amazing organization. We have much respect for what they do and for their mission. We were so thrilled be able to contribute in some small way. 4,0000 healthy meals made, 365 days a year and distributed across the DC area = amazing.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 4

this organization provides a much needed service to the dc community. their clients value it, and for good reason. I was lucky enough to sample the food and it was amazing!

Review from Guidestar

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is (by far) the best organized volunteer experience you can have in DC. I have volunteered at several places in DC and DC Central Kitchen regularly makes we feel appreciated and really makes you work. Other places don't know what to do with you but DC Central Kitchen has a plan and work for everyone who walks in the door.

12 Jim Torrens

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The National Network of Sector Partners (NNSP) visited DC Central Kitchen in 2009 to learn more about their culinary training program - and came away impressed not only by their ability to help very low-income people with barriers to employment get good jobs but also by their ability to involve industry as partners in delivering the program and providing placements to graduates. We were therefore proud and grateful to include them as a site visit in our recent national conference.

16

Former staff

Rating: 5

I interned with this fabulous non-profit in 2007. I honestly feel as though non-profits should use DCCK as an example of great management and innovative programs that are also successful. If the goal is to acutally see a lasting change and to make a lasting difference - this is how it should be done. Rock on DCCK. I am a former intern turned into a life-long supporter. I do not live close to DCCK anymore so I give in small amounts but I am captured by their tremendous mission and hope to continue to give whatever I can whenever I can.

26

Client Served

Rating: 5

I contracted with DCCK for an event at the Junior League of Washington and was incredibly impressed in every regard. Professionalism and positive attitudes abound at DCCK, and the hors d'oeuvres were delicious and the prices unmatched by any other caterer in a 100-mile radius. As a charitable organization ourselves, the JLW also loved the idea that DCCK is giving back to the community. I highly recommend using DCCK for your next event, they were amazing!

24

Volunteer

Rating: 5

DCCK has a wonderful mission and it is a great place to Volunteer. The people are outstanding and show true appreciation for whatever you do.

28

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great organization-- well-organized, focused, and truly appreciative of volunteer efforts. Even when I've had a long day at work and am tired, I'm always glad to have made it over to chop veggies for a few hours. It does me good. Thanks to all for the good vibes!

30

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A small group from my Rotaract Club volunteered to prep food in the evening from 5-8. I appreciated that the volunteer coordinator gave us a brief orientation about the organization and its programs, as well as what we would be helping them with that night and how to be safe in the kitchen. All of us enjoyed our time there and agreed that we would definitely go back in the future.

23

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great staff and positive morale. Met some great people, and would definitely do it again. Left DCCK with a smile on my face.

21

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with DC Central Kitchen on my days off, usually a few times a month. But since my days off are not consistent, it's great that DCCK has flexible and easy volunteer scheduling, so I'm not committed to a certain day or schedule. The kitchen at DCCK is a well-oiled machine. They have experienced chefs working with volunteers of every level, and volunteers are never in over their heads. They are used to, and good at, having volunteers around.

16

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is the BEST place to go if you want to serve and have fun. The people there are so wonderful. They have the best attitudes. It's literally like a family. I want to go so much more that I have gone. I've been there twice so far and each time has been better. The time goes by so quick. I had to leave early the second time and I promise you, I did not want to leave. If you are looking to serve and have a wonderful experience preparing food for the ones who need it and appreciate it, this is definitely the place for you. It fills up quickly because it's so great. They've also added night schedules for people to serve. All I can say is, you have not served, until you have been to the DC Central Kitchen. They take serving the community to whole new fun exciting level.

20

Volunteer

Rating: 5

During the week that my group stayed in Washington DC we helped out at multiple organizations to help homelessness; and out of the 6 or 7 service that we did I would like to say that DCCK was the best experience for me. I had fun cooking at talking to the people around e. I thoroughly enjoyed my entire time there , I didn't want to leave. (1/12/2009)

18

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering at DCCK was a wonderful experience - the people there are truly inspiring individuals that really believe in what they do and are eager to share their passions with you. I learned so much, from how to properly cut 400 potatoes in one shift to how social entrepreneurship can really change people's lives and transform a community. Robert Egger is so inspiring, as are all the people who have made his vision a reality. Go DCCK!!

18

Volunteer

Rating: 5

DC Central Kitchen is an amazing innovative place that takes leftovers from restaurants and other places and turns it into meals for the needy. The chefs and staff are very friendly and I learned some basic cooking skills like how to chop onions and carrots properly.

16

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Not only does DCCK provide 4,500 meals a day to individuals throughout the Washington DC community, they also provide a life changing opportunity to it's Culinary Job Training Trainees. DCCK is such an inspiring place to volunteer. All of the staff are warm and welcoming and are willing to share their stories. DCCK is an all-around great place to be.

16

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm in Washington, D.C., taking a class for my university, and we had the incredible opportunity to work at DC Central Kitchen yesterday, and the experience was incredible. Before leaving, I was doubtful whether this nonprofit that I didn't know much about would be able to accommodate the 30 people in our group in a way that would allow everyone to be utilized and not be standing around bored. Fortunately, the kitchen is very well organized and the staff is kind and cooperative. Our group received continual directions when needed, and we had a great time. If I lived in the DC area, I would surely be returning a lot. The Central Kitchen is a great project for people of all ages, including those like myself who are in college. Check out the DC Central Kitchen website www.dccentralkitchen.org They have information on there for students about how to get involved at our own schools as well.

16

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I loved DCCK! They opened their arms and welcomed my groups help. We were there for a week working every day in the kitchen and loved every minute of it. The people are so nice and grateful for everything we were willing to help with. They were also VERY accommadating as well. I have many allergies, I'm pretty much allergic to life and they still allowed me to work and kept me safe at the same time. They watched over me like I was one of their daugthers. I loved DCCK. It's the best environment with the most cheerful people.

14

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Great experience for my wife and I. We were travelling through the area and happy for the chance to volunteer at DC Central.

15

Volunteer

Rating: 4

A great place to donate your time. This organization not only provides healthy meals to homeless shelters and other community groups, but it trains homeless people to become chefs! I walk out of this place every month feeling like I have accomplished something - and frequently take home cooking tips as well.

21

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I've volunteered at DCCK about every other month for the past 18 months and have really enjoyed it. The staff is very nice and professional and appreciate our volunteer services. They let you take on responsibility, especially once they get to know you (after repeated visits). My only complaint is that the briefing at the start of the day can get very long--I've taken to coming late just to miss it since I've heard it before and it isn't so much about safety as about the philosophy of DCCK. But overall, it is fantastic.

19

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience at DCCK was great. I have volunteered there a few times before, I plan to continue. Everyone involved is dedicated and committed to the mission. The staff emphasizes good hygiene during food preparation and quality food. The staff explains the mission to the volunteers and tells them how the food is helping others.

18

Volunteer

Rating: 5

DC Central Kitchen is a great place to volunteer. I have organized to volunteer with 15 different groups in the last 1 1/2 years. More than 400 volunteers, including 100 young adults have participated. We all had great time. Jerald Thaoma the Kitchen Director, Carolyn Parham the volunteer co-ordinator ar of great help. They help us by getting the provisions, we need. Communicate, in case of Machine breakdowns. They and the entire staff are very helpfull in getting the vegetarian meal prepared in time. They also help in organizing the tour of Community for Non-Violence facility. We are looking forward voulnteer at the least once a month for ever. DCCK is a great place to volunteer. K.G. Venkatraman (Ramani) Hindu Community Service Organizer and donor.

17

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a great organization - great people to work with and the ability to make an actual contribution with your time. Mr. Egger even drops by most days which is always inspiring! We've volunteered here for years, and now my son is old enough to volunteer too. Talk about quality time!

21

Volunteer

Rating: 4

We were really impressed with the mission of this program and how everything was interconnected. The tasks we did were so minuscule, but overall helpful when you think about everything the staff at DC Central Kitchen have to do. We enjoyed working together and with our team leaders. We would definitely do this again.

22

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am the parent of a 16 year old. She LOVED IT. She brought 3 friends a different times and they LOVED IT. That says alot to get a teenager to like anything that much and it is not related to music or some teen function That says alot about your program. Thank you so much! They continue to volunteer just because not because it is a requirement. Yeah! Happy Holidays to you all!

17

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hands down - DCCK is the greatest place to volunteer. The staff and fellow volunteers offer comfort and camaraderie, and really let you know that your efforts are not only appreciated, but make a real difference in the lives of many.

24

Volunteer

Rating: 5

DC Central Kitchen was one of the best places I've volunteered at.The staff was very supportive and one of the best I've ever been around with.

21

Volunteer

Rating: 5

DC Central Kitchen was one of the best places i've volunteered at. I've learn to make good food, cleaned up, washed dishes, and so forth. The staff was very supportive and one of the best i've ever been around with. The chefs know how to prepare food and they teach you ways to do it. That's how i've keep coming back.

22

Volunteer

Rating: 5

D.C. Central Kitchen has not only provided me with a meaningful way of helping the community, but also practical cooking and organizational skills that led to several employment opportunities. This is one of the best non-profits out there and there's no better way to get to know it than by volunteering.

23

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm impressed with DC Central Kitchen. I had a great experience volunteering at the Kitchen to prepare food for the homeless. The staff were friendly, patient and emphasise to the volunteers the importance of cleanliness, safety and presentation. DCCK makes a big impact on the community thru their various programs and helps to break the cycle of homelessness.

20

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The entire ledership from my organization came out to support the DC Central Kitchen. It was a wondeful experience and the people are truly nice. All federal agencies shoudl consider suipporting this organizatio throughtheir volunteer programs.

25

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It was the most fun few hours chopping vegetables I've ever had. I really enjoyed chatting with other volunteers working alongside me, and the kitchen staff was friendly and never lacking in jobs for us to do. One tip: wear your baseball cap if you don't want to have to take a hair net.

22

Volunteer

Rating: 5

DCCK is by far one of the best places in the DC Metro area to go serve at! The entire staff at the Kitchen always create a positive atmosphere when you go serve and make you want to keep coming back!

25

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I always have an enjoyable time when volunteering at the DCCK. It's so much fun that I always try to bring at least one new friend every time!

22

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We took eight Cub Scouts and various family members to the Kitchen for an absolutely fabulous experience. The boys learned about the Kitchen's mission to feed and to teach through cooking. We learned about the jobs program and how the Kitchen manages volunteers, food donations, and their 4500 meals per day volume. Nutritionist Dahlia served as host for the day, giving us a tour punctuated by comments from a generous head chef. We learned about how the Kitchen keeps an eye on nutritional needs of the families it serves, and we even had a quick exercise refreshing on the Food Pyramid. The boys were finally able to lend a hand themselves when they mixed some dry food donations into trail mix bags. We couldn't have planned for a better experience. Thank you.

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.]

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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

Client Served

Rating: 5

DCCK is a wonderful place to go to school. I have learned a lot about the kitchen. I will be graduated in October 08. I learned how to work as a team player and help people when they ask me. And staying focus on my job as DCCK. I love being here and one day maybe I will get a job here. [This review was collected at a site visit to DCCK and inputted by a GreatNonprofits intern.]

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

Client Served

Rating: 5

I think it's a wonderful opportunity for a person who doesn't have skills to improve their life, get a better job, and help their community. This is wonderful place to start.

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!