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: October 2012

Meet the Students: Culinary Job Training Class 90

, October 31st, 2012

Class 90 is working hard, learning those critical knife and life skills. Click on the below image to check out the slideshow. We asked each student to tell us 3 interesting things about themselves.

Meet the Students 9click to view)
Click here to download PDF

Fresh Feature Friday: Introducing Kids to New Foods

, October 26th, 2012

If you’ve caught some of our recent school lunch photos or taken a look at our menus, you may have noticed that we’ve boldly introduced menu items featuring foods kids “hate”: brussels sprouts, wheat bread stuffing, tabouleh, beets, black eyed peas, and whole grain bread pudding.

A Walker-Jones student tries beets for the first time.

But while school districts and parents have historically avoided serving these foods to children, students are practically licking their plates clean. What’s our secret?

We listen.

Through our new initiative Fresh Feature Friday, students participate in a taste-testing program in the cafeteria during lunch time. Katie Nash, our DC Public Schools Program Manager responsible for nutrition education and outreach, started Fresh Feature after noticing that when students didn’t recognize a food, they refused to eat it.

Each week, our kitchens prepare one fresh ingredient, like cauliflower or strawberries, three different ways. The taste tests have proven to be a fun way to introduce children to new foods, educate them about their benefits, and most importantly, find out what they like.

At DC Central Kitchen, we’re serious about food, and equally serious about serving people wholesome meals they want to eat. Student feedback is an important guide to our school food menus. It’s a straightforward guarantee that the students will enjoy the wholesome, scratch-cooked food we prepare.

Check out the editorial recently published in the Huffington Post by DC Central Kitchen’s CEO Mike Curtin addressing the backlash to healthy foods in public schools.

Food Day: 5 Ways to Get Involved

, October 24th, 2012

Today is Food Day, an expansive nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food.

Just one of our healthy school meals!

DC Central Kitchen is celebrating Food Day EVERY DAY by producing 10,000 healthy meals using fresh fruits and vegetables, much of it sourced from local farms.

We’re also changing eating habits by providing affordable fresh produce to corner stores in food deserts, educating kids about nutrition through the Truck Farm, and serving healthy meals to 10 DC schools. Through the Culinary Job Training program, we’re exposing our students to healthy cooking techniques and providing nutritional education. Healthy, affordable, and sustainable food is central to our mission.

Here are some ways YOU can be a part of Food Day.

Lydia Mills, DCCK’s Nutrition Outreach Coordinator, is out there teaching kids about nutrition via the innovative Truck Farm project.

1) Eat lunch at Chipotle TODAY!
Chipotle is a great partner in the fight to get healthy and sustainable food into DC public schools. Today, they have pledged $15,000 in proceeds from DC Chipotle stores toward our Healthy School Food program. So get down there and eat something healthy! Tell them we sent you.

2) Volunteer at DC Central Kitchen
Did you know that nearly all of our meals are scratch cooked using healthy fresh produce, much of it sourced from local farms? You can be part of the solution by signing up to volunteer – transforming that healthy produce into 5,000 meals. For the next 30 days, we’re going to be awarding free Chipotle burritos to our most outstanding volunteers. Check out all the action on Pinterest.

3) Write a Letter to the Editor
Tell your favorite newspaper, blog, or magazine how much you support local food and mention how DC Central Kitchen is breaking nutritional barriers in DC by serving healthy school meals, combating food deserts, and sourcing from local farms.

4) Organize a Group Fundraiser
Thanksgiving is around the corner and there is so much you can do to get your organization or group involved in our mission to use healthy and sustainable food as a tool to transform communities. Contact Abby Elsener at for ideas.

5) Host a Food Day Event
The Food Day website provides a ton of resources to engage your friends and neighbors in the discussion to spark community change.

Chipotle and DC Central Kitchen Partner to Raise $15,000 for Healthy School Food Program

, October 18th, 2012

Starting October 24th, all Washington, D.C. Chipotle restaurants have pledged all proceeds up to $15,000 on food purchased between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. to benefit DC Central Kitchen’s Healthy School Food Program.

This program provides nearly 5,000 healthy, locally-sourced, scratch-cooked school meals to low-income DC Public School students each day.

On October 24th, we’re teaming up with Chipotle Mexican Grill to commemorate Food Day, a nationwide celebration of a movement toward more healthy, affordable, and sustainable food.

Chipotle and DC Central Kitchen are both committed to using local farm products and promoting responsible agriculture through their purchasing practices. Together, we are investing critical resources into our local economy while promoting environmental sustainability.

“We are very aware that we could not do our work without incredible partners that are invested in our mission. Chipotle is investing in us and, by extension, the future of our shared community,” said Michael Curtin, Jr., CEO of DC Central Kitchen.

“For nearly two decades, Chipotle has been changing the way people think about and eat fast food by bringing customers better ingredients from more sustainable sources,” said Chris Arnold, communications director at Chipotle Mexican Grill. “We are proud to support the DC Central Kitchen as their work is making a positive impact on our community and positively influencing future generations of students.”

This promotion also marks the start of a new partnership between DCCK and Chipotle to recognize outstanding DCCK volunteers. From Monday, October 22th through Friday, November 23rdthose who go above and beyond in their service to DC Central Kitchen  will receive special rewards from Chipotle. We’ve also launched a new Pinterest to post photos of our most dedicated volunteers. Follow us!

Robert Egger Says Goodbye

, October 16th, 2012

Robert Egger Says Goodbye at Capital Food FightAt Capital Food Fight, our President and Founder, Robert Egger, announced that after 25 years he’s leaving DC Central Kitchen.

“It is every founder’s dream that someday the organization they launch will be strong and stable enough to survive — and thrive — without them. That day has come for this founder,” said Robert in his latest blog post.

This move will bring Robert back to the town of his roots, Los Angeles, where he sees an incredible vacuum with millions of pounds of California’s fresh fruits and vegetables going to waste. Robert is launching a brand new organization, L.A. Kitchen, to recover that produce and transform it into healthy meals for hungry senior citizens.  As L.A. Kitchen thrives, the meals will fuel a job training program to empower unemployed Angelenos.

Robert leaves our thriving powerhouse of an organization in the very capable hands of current CEO Michael Curtin, Jr.

There’s a BIG difference between a leader and a boss, a door-opener and a gate-keeper and a talker and a doer. I plan on illustrating those stark differences for the rest of my life,” said Robert.

We interviewed Robert about L.A. Kitchen and what he’ll miss the most about DCCK.

Q: When did it occur you to start L.A. Kitchen?
Robert: Since the 1990’s, I’ve met and worked with countless LA/CA based food groups, and ALL spoke about the volume of food wasted, yet none had the capacity to capture that food. Our national food distribution system is a hostage to time…in that, every second a piece of fruit or vegetable sits, it is decomposing. I always dreamed of freezing food, which is what we began doing at DCCK a few years back. LAK will take that idea to 11.

Q: What is the most powerful lesson you’ve learned from starting several organizations, including DC Central Kitchen and CForward, that will influence the way you lead L.A. Kitchen?
Robert: Don’t chased money, chase results. If you chase money, you run forever. You chase results, money comes to you.

Q: Who have been your greatest influences in your life and as an social entrepreneur?
Robert: Ghandi, King and Chavez. ALL three were social entrepreneurs. They saw wrong, and rather than bemoan injustices, they got smart, helped people find common ground and then used market forces to challenge the illusion of power. It’s what we do, in a fashion, at DCCK—we reveal the power people always had and help them channel it in productive, liberating ways.

Q: Why focus on senior meals?
Robert: Anybody in the “hunger” world, no matter who you serve now, will be serving seniors in the immediate future. There’s a waiting list for Meals on Wheels NOW, and there are 80 million baby boomers coming down the road. As Bob Dylan sang “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”. Instead of waiting, I’m going to march out to meet the future.

Q: What’s one of your favorite moments being at DC Central Kitchen?
Robert: The day I saw a group of doctors, standing around a recovering addict, as he taught them how to cut carrots. That was an eureka moment, and revealed the true potential of DCCK. If we just put people side x side, so that we could explore the power of community, and reveal that everyone has a skill, everyone has a gift, then we could help people over the burdensome stereotype of ”us” and “them” and move all toward “we”.

Q: What is the thing you’re going to miss most about DC and DCCK?
Robert: The friends I’ve made. My clunky mop closet office. The sounds and smells as the day progresses. GRADUATION DAY. But I’ll replicate those things in LA. It’ll be cool, it’ll be bad…but it will never be DCCK.

DCCK’s Anand Shantam wins Shining Star Award

, October 15th, 2012

DCCK’s Anand Shantam and Chef Rock Harper on stage at Capital Food Fight.

At Capital Food Fight, we proudly announced Anand Shantam as the winner of the annual Shining Star Award. The Shining Star is awarded to a DC Central Kitchen employee and culinary graduate who exemplifies our spirit of empowerment and change. Anand received a $5,500 scholarship to continue her culinary education at L’Academie de Cuisine.

Anand, a Culinary Job Training program graduate, currently works as a production cook at Walker-Jones Education Campus where she has become a leading force in ensuring that the healthy school meals we serve are delicious and nutritionally sound.

 “I can be part of their evolution. I can make them better human beings through food. Food is everything,” says Anand about what she likes best about her work with students. At Walker-Jones she has proven that kids will eat vegetables if they are prepared the right way.

Anand learned about the Culinary Job Training program from a counselor who knew of her passion of cooking from helping her family preparing meals as a child. Not long after graduating, she was asked to come back to work for DC Central Kitchen. “I had no idea about the opportunities to find a job. I really believe in our mission statement.” 

Bright, cheery, and passionate, Anand looks forward to her future.With this job I’ve really found courage and hope. Now with this scholarship, I’m walking through doors that I didn’t know could help me grow in this field.”

Anand writes in her scholarship application: “At this journey in my life, I take to heart and am very proud to be working for DC Central Kitchen whose logo reads: Feeding the Soul of the City. We are part of the solution.

At L’Academie de Cuisine, Anand looks forward to learning from true professionals about the business of running a kitchen. A vegetarian, she also hopes to learn more about cooking meats.

The Shining Star Award is made possible by L’Academie de Cuisine, Think Food Group, Dufour & Co and Friends, Design Foundry, Atmosphere Inc., and Atlantic Valet.