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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

5 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.


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!


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!


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.]


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.