Combating Hunger, Creating Opportunity

DC Central Kitchen is America's leader in reducing hunger with recycled food, training unemployed adults for culinary careers, serving healthy school meals, and rebuilding urban food systems through social enterprise.
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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Gettysburg College, William and Mary receive awards for their service

, June 29th, 2012

Over the years, Campus Kitchens have served over 2 million meals while empowering students across the country to fight hunger. But volunteers do more than just rescue food or temporarily relieve hunger – they are relied upon by their communities to fill a gap in the social safety net. Their work has become an integral service that clients and organizations alike depend upon for food, education, and empowerment, and the ties between Campus Kitchen and clients go beyond meals. Dinners and delivery visits allow the volunteers and clients to feel as if they are a part of a community, and that interaction can make a great impact. The Campus Kitchens at Gettysburg College and the College of William and Mary were both recently recognized by their state governments for the difference that they have made.

Every week, the Campus Kitchen at Gettysburg College (CKGC) serves meals to families and children in their area, but it was their work with the Adams County Office for Aging (ACOFA) that captured the attention of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. This spring, CKGC was awarded the 2012 Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Nutrition for Older Pennsylvanians for their “dedication and innovation in expanding nutrition services to the older adults” in their community.

CKGC has been partnering with ACOFA since the spring of 2008 to provide 26 meals to senior citizens three times a week. In addition to delivering nutritious meals, Gettysburg students also provide company and entertainment during bi-weekly group meals that help foster a sense of community between student and client.

CKGC receiving their award


The Campus Kitchen at the College of William and Mary (CKWM) received the Governor’s Award for Volunteerism and Service from Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. CKWM has over 150 students who help prepare and deliver 175 meals a week to the residents at four public housing developments.

Like Gettysburg, CKWM does more than just provide food; the student volunteers work to engage and form relationships with their clients. They held a career seminar “in which they taught residents about preparing a resume and filling out a job application” and have started a mentoring program that pairs William and Mary students with grade school children.

CKWM with Gov. McDonnell


Both CKGC and CKWM better their communities by feeding their neighbors, providing support, and actively participating in the towns in which they live. Congratulations to all of the volunteers and coordinators for receiving these much deserved honors!

First Helping client, Reginald Gaines, and his Phoenix Bike

, June 28th, 2012

Getting around has been a difficult thing for First Helping client, Reginald Gaines.

The distance he is able to travel is limited due to his bad hip. Walking is tiring for him. Getting around is now a lot easier for Reginald thanks to the bike he was donated by Phoenix Bikes.

Phoenix Bikes is an organization that trains youth mechanics to refurbish donated bikes and return them to the street. When DC Central Kitchen contacted them to ask about a bike for Reginald, they were happy to help out.

“It is part of our mission to get bikes to people who need them,” said Henry Dunbar, Executive Director at Phoenix Bikes.

For Reginald, this bike is another step forward in overcoming the challenges that he has had to face.

“I was homeless, but I started going to First Helping and have been straight ever since,” explains Reginald. “Anything I needed, I always came here. I’m thankful.”

First Helping worked with Reginald to get him an ID card and a place of his own to live in, and now that he has a bike to ride, he feels more grateful than ever.

“Now I can stretch and train my legs. It is good for me to exercise, I really need that.”

Plus, Reginald can now go to places that he hasn’t visited in a long time since they were too far for him to walk to. He is looking forward to biking to the National Mall for the 4th of July, which is something he has not done in years.

The thing Reginald is going to do most of all?

I’m just gonna ride!

A Summer of Inspiration: Truck Farm’s 2012 Season Kicks Off

, June 27th, 2012
Truck Farm at the USDA's Friday Farmers Market

Truck Farm at the USDA’s Friday Farmers Market


The arrival of summer marks the beginning of the season for DC Central Kitchen’s Truck Farm. The Truck Farm, an edible garden in the bed of a pick-up truck, was started last year as a joint project between DCCK and the USDA. Every Friday from 10am to 2pm, the truck is at the USDA People’s Garden Farmers Market and during the rest of the week the Truck Farmers bring the truck to DCCK’s summer feeding sites, giving gardening and nutrition lessons.


One of the young ladies learning about the different herbs in the truck.

One of the young ladies learning about herbs in the truck.




Annie Ceccarini, Outreach and Education Coordinator for the USDA People’s Garden Initiative, says that the truck farm concept is an “easy way to engage the community,” connecting urban children and adults to the source of their food. In addition, the truck provides an opportunity for kids to “be gardeners,” all while learning about nutrition and healthy eating. Most importantly, the truck inspires people to think “we can do this,” we can grow our own food, we can eat more healthily. Looking to the future, Annie hopes to partner with other organizations to find other ways to bring gardens into at-risk food communities.





Truck Farmers and YLOT with salad

Truck Farmers and the Young Ladies of Tomorrow with their salad.


For the DCCK Truck Farmers, the 2012 summer season is just getting underway, with a visit to the Young Ladies of Tomorrow last week, and visits to Children’s National Hospital and King Towers this week. You can follow the truck across DC on Twitter and Facebook. We’ll be posting updates and photos frequently throughout the summer, so check back often! DCCK’s Truck Farm is made possible by the USDA People’s Garden Initiative, the Aetna Foundation, and the Shepherd’s Gift Foundation and we thank them for their support.

Free Summer Meals Now Being Served at DC Public Schools

, June 26th, 2012

Summer School started up yesterday at DC Public Schools and so did the DC Free Summer Meals program.

Between June 25th and August 3rd breakfast and lunch meals are free to all summer school students as well as any child under the age of nineteen through the USDA’s summer food service program.

Kids can walk into any of the 195 summer meal sites to receive a breakfast, lunch, supper or snack (offerings vary by site). Serving times can be found using the link at the bottom of the Summer Meals Program page.

During the normal school year, all schools provide free breakfasts to students and seventy five percent of schools provide free lunches to students. The Free Summer Meals Program exists to ensure that these kids do not go hungry when school lets out.

DC Central Kitchen will be serving approximately 2,000 breakfast and lunch meals each day this summer at following seven DC Public Schools:


















Some highlights from this summer’s scratch cooked, locally sourced menu include fresh local zucchini, collard greens, melon and peaches as well as Chef Jamillah’s Banana Bread. Stay tuned for photos and updates throughout the summer!

Chef Rock: Bringing new ideas to DC Central Kitchen

, June 25th, 2012

Rahman (Rock) Harper, Director of Kitchen Operations, has been busy bringing new ideas to DC Central Kitchen since his arrival in November 2011. Here’s what he had to say about his time here so far:

Why did you decide to work at DC Central Kitchen instead of staying in a restaurant setting?

I’ve been a friend of the Kitchen for many years and I served on the board last year. It is an organization and a mission that is close to my heart and when I saw there was an opening, I thought it would be a good match. Plus, I like to be taken out of my comfort zone and face new challenges. I figured we could both help each other.

Speaking of challenges, what has the greatest challenge been in running DC Central Kitchen?

One challenge has been handling the large array of products that come in. As a chef, you order. Of course, you still have to think on the fly, but not like here. This is a whole new level. Also, finding ways to incorporate some of the new approaches I bring to the Kitchen with the more traditional ways that were in place when I first started.

How has your restaurant experience helped you to meet those challenges?

In restaurants, you work will all sorts of people. I’m familiar with people from all different backgrounds, so that has helped. But when it comes down to it, cooking food is cooking food. The bottom line is we want people to like it, same as in the for-profit world.

What changes have you made in the Kitchen to help it run more efficiently?

Mainly I’ve been increasing the kitchen staff’s knowledge of how the whole machine works, where everything comes from and where it all goes out to. I’ve also put in some new systems and practices that are a bit more detailed oriented. For instance, when products come in, we weigh them and use that as a tool to help us use the product as efficiently as possible.

What has been your favorite part of working at DC Central Kitchen so far?

Knowing the impact of the work we’re doing. I went on visits to a couple of sites and being at the shelters, getting feedback, interacting and listening was all really cool.

Is there anything else you would like to add about your experience here so far and the work you are doing in the Kitchen?

Just that everyone can make a difference. All movements start with a group of concerned people just doing what they can. You don’t have to have a lot of money; everyone can do a small part.

Class 88 Women find mentors in the Dames

, June 21st, 2012

The Les Dames d’ Escoffier International has partnered with DC Central Kitchen to mentor the women of Culinary Job Training Class 88 as they start their culinary careers.

The LDEI is the premier organization of influential professional women who are committed to the advancement of education and philanthropy in food, beverage and hospitality for the good of the global community.

Class 88 has more women than any other job training class and when presented with this opportunity, the Dames stepped up to offer their sisterhood and heartfelt support.

We’re grateful to partner with the Dames and we’re excited for the opportunity this offers our students, who could always use the extra support post-graduation.

To introduce the Dames to the women of Class 88, we produced this short video about what the students expect from a mentoring relationship.