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: August 2012

Meet Stephen Kendall, Food Procurement Czar

, August 31st, 2012

For the past two years, Stephen Kendall has handled all raw food, beverages, and paper goods purchased and donated for meal production at DC Central Kitchen. We interviewed Stephen about his important role as procurement manager and the fruitful partnerships he’s built to acquire more donated product for the Kitchen.

Q: What is the good news in your world?Stephen Kendall
Stephen: The good news for donations is that we continue to grow our fresh produce partnerships. Pretty much everything that we use for our Core Programs meals (shelters, social services, etc.) now comes donated. Our partners in the produce industry have really helped us increase these donations.

We’ve also built great partnerships with farmers and growers leading to some good gleaning trips this summer. We’ve acquired over 5,000 pounds of corn, cabbage, and greens from those trips.

For purchasing, now that we are back in the regular school year we are able to move lots more local produce.

Q: What are some of the challenges you face as DCCK’s procurement manager?
Stephen: The main challenges are the day to day changes in what is coming in and what is available. Every day is different and we’re often responding to donations, as well as purchasing opportunities, on short notice. Then you throw in factors like the weather (for gleaning and local agriculture), routing trucks etc. and things get more complicated.

There really isn’t a rule book for what we do. But, at the same time, that is what makes us such a dynamic, powerful organization. It is also what makes this job so fun. I owe a lot to our Kitchen Staff and Transportation Staff who work day in and day out to balance all of these factors and create efficiencies.

Q: What are the your goals for improving procurement at DC Central Kitchen?
Stephen: My two biggest goals are to continue to grow our local procurement and increase our donated product. I’m really interested in working strategically to replace non-local products with items grown, raised and/or produced regionally. The next phase for us is increasing our purchases of local proteins.

We’ve done some work with beef but I’d love to get into turkey (one of our biggest categories). There are some new challenges there but nothing we can’t look to overcome. For donated product, I’m also focusing on proteins. We’ve worked hard on product but there is more work to do capturing proteins.

Q: What inspires you about your position?
Stephen: I’m inspired by my coworkers – I mentioned transportation and kitchen staff, but really all our staff at all levels – and the work they do to empower students, clients, and volunteers.

My role is to capture the tool – food – and I’m inspired to find the best tools I can to serve that process. I’m inspired by the people in the community who help make that possible – donors, growers, vendors. I’m also really passionate about combating food waste.

What Do We Mean by Scratch-Cooked?

, August 30th, 2012

This school year we’ll be telling the story week by week of what it takes to make locally sourced, scratch-cooked meals happen every day in our nine DC Public School cafeterias.

We’ll be introducing you to the team of chefs, kitchen staff, farmers, nutritionists and all the other behind the scenes folks who help make it happen.

To start our conversation about preparing over 4,000  healthy school meals each day, we’d like to talk a bit about scratch-cooking, something which makes our meals stand out from standard cafeteria fare.

What do we mean when we say scratch-cooked?

Instead of using processed and pre-packaged food, we start with basic fresh ingredients which our cooks then slice, dice, chop, season and use to prepare healthy, kid-friendly meals following recipes created by our team of chefs.

This allows us to provide meals for the students at DCPS that are not only nutritious, but taste like something you would want to feed your kids at home.

Our kitchens are full of knives, cutting boards, pots & pans, fresh herbs and spices and the cooks who prepare our meals know how to use them.

Many of the cooks in our school kitchens come from DC Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training Program and received extensive hands on culinary training as part of their twelve week class.

Sound like the way cooking ought to be done? We agree, but sadly this is no longer happening in the majority of cafeterias across the country, which are largely equipped to reheat and serve pre-packed meals. This is why we are immensely proud of the care and skill that goes into serving our meals and can’t wait to share more about the process this school year.

First Day at DC Public Schools in Photos

, August 27th, 2012

Today marked the start of DC Central Kitchen’s third year serving up healthy meals to kids at DC Public Schools.

Have a look at the day in photos. There’s a lot of scratch-cooked, locally sourced goodness to be share:
























Today’s menu: Baked chicken drum stick, brown rice, local collard greens, orange wedges & milk.


















Our local collard greens came from a farm in Maryland and were chopped and cooked at the Nutrition Lab.


















A student at Walker Jones Education Campus makes his way through the lunch line. (Photo from Walker Jones Education Campus’ Twitter feed)



















Our kitchen staff prepping the days meals.
























A DCCK driver drops off fresh local peaches at Aiton Elementary School.


















These local peaches from West Virginia are on tomorrow’s lunch menu along with an all beef hot dog on a whole wheat bun, bbq baked beans made from scratch at the Nutrition Lab, cucumber salad & milk.





















At the end of the day, our kitchen staff started preparing tomorrow’s breakfast, egg & cheese frittata, which will be served with whole wheat toast, local cantaloupe and milk.


Expanding our School Food Program

, August 20th, 2012

Kids around the city return to school next week and DC Central Kitchen is happy to announce that this year, we will be serving even more of these students healthy, scratch-cooked meals. For the 2012-2013 school year we’ve added two additional schools. We will be serving breakfast, lunch and supper meals at nine DC Public schools as well as the Washington Jesuit Academy.

Last school year we served over 680,000 scratch-cooked meals, and  invested over $77,000 in local farms. This year we look forward to reaching even more students with our high-quality meals packed with local produce.

Take a look at the schools we will be serving:















Sodexo, Unilever, and the Campus Kitchen at Northwestern celebrate summer feeding efforts

, August 17th, 2012

CKNU Sodexo ServingThe summer has not slowed down one bit for the volunteers at the Campus Kitchen at Northwestern University (CKNU) – they’ve been busy making 22,000 meals!

Partnering together since 2005, Sodexo Foundation’s Feeding Our Future program and CKNU work to provide free summer lunches to children to fill the summer meal gap. To celebrate all of the hard work that goes into making so many meals, volunteers from CKNU, Sodexo, and Unilever Food Sulutions hosted an educational event at Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center.

On Tuesday, 125 children from the greater Chicago area participated in the celebration. By going to six different learning stations, children ages 4 to 12 got some hands-on experience by making yogurt parfaits, trying different types of vegetables, and challenging one another in a MyPlate inspired relay race. Sodexo nutritionists and chefs, as well as Unilever and CKNU volunteers, guided the children through the stations and helped them “learn about healthy food choices.”

At the end of the event, everyone enjoyed a healthy lunch that included whole wheat wraps with red pepper hummus, grilled vegetables and black beans, and a side of fruit.

But the summer is not over yet. Over the next few weeks, CKNU will continue to work with Feeding Our Future to produce thousands of meals and snacks to meet local need, and they will continue with their nutritional education programs to ensure that children develop healthy eating habits. “There is one simple thing that any of us can do to offer our children a leg up in the world. Feed them,” said Robert A. Stern, chair, Sodexo Foundation.

Together, Sodexo Foundation, Unilever, and CKNU are doing just that.

Nutrition lessons with Summer Feeding

, August 16th, 2012

DC Central Kitchen’s Summer Feeding Program, part of Healthy Returns, is well under way and our staff and volunteers have been busy providing healthy food to over 40 agencies serving children around DC.

In addition to providing food, our Summer Feeding staff goes to our agencies to give nutrition lessons to the kids to teach them about healthy food and healthy living.

The nutrition lessons focus on teaching the kids what foods are healthy for them and why. They also teach how much of each food group the kids should be getting at each meal.

This summer, our staff is using the upcoming Olympic Games as a tool to teach about healthy living through the 5 Olympic Rings of Nutrition. These 5 points cover adequacy, balance, calorie control, moderation, and variety.

Lessons are centered on hands on activities with the kids like drawing out healthy meals on paper plates and using teamwork to demonstrate the important of a balanced diet.

In giving kids the knowledge they need to make healthy choices while also providing them with healthy snacks, Summer Feeding is laying the ground work for a healthier future for our youth.