Updates for Achievements
Last month, our Culinary Job Training students were busy not only in the classroom, but also competing at foodie events across the city.
On June 16, the students enrolled our seventh satellite class at the Central Union Mission shelter for homeless men competed in the annual Biscuit Bash at Art & Soul Restaurant. The members of this class prepared a biscuit with fried chicken and a variety of sauces, including a habanero honey. Although they did not win, our students’ dishes stacked up favorably while they met some of DC’s best chefs and served their food to eager guests.
A few days later on June 19th, Culinary Job Training Class 104 competed against students at L’Academie de Cuisine Culinary School and Stratford University in DC Food & Beverage Collective’s student Crab Cake Competition. Class 104 student Michelle took home the top prize for her crab cake recipe!
Taking part in events like these allows students to build their confidence and show how their training is preparing them for the demands of the industry.
What’s more, we know that the experience provided to our students is crucial to their success upon graduation. So far, eight graduates of Class 104 are employed full-time. Current employers include Whole Foods and The Hard Rock Café.
DC Central Kitchen has been selected as one of the food service providers for DC Public Schools in the 2016-2017 academic year. A continuation of our partnership with DC Public Schools that began in 2010, DCCK will serve nearly 1,000 more low-income students, providing healthy, scratch-cooked meals to schoolchildren at 12 District schools in Ward 7.
Our award-winning Healthy School Food program was recognized with the prestigious Golden Carrot Award in 2015. Established in 2004, The Golden Carrot Awards recognize food service teams in both public and private school districts doing exceptional work to improve the healthfulness of school lunches.
DCCK will continue its food service to two private schools that serve low-income children, as well as a charter school in Ward 6.
Last week, DC Central Kitchen held its second Healthy Corners pop-up market at the Chesapeake Big Market corner store in Ward 8. The second pop-up market at this location was resounding success and resulted in the sale of more than 225 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables!
At every Healthy Corners Pop-Up Market, our Nutrition & Community Outreach team brings a variety of fresh produce which we sell at deeply discounted prices. The model provides a risk-free way for store owners to test the demand for fresh produce in their neighborhood without purchasing it themselves, while making healthy food available in communities that wouldn’t otherwise have access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. The pop-up markets also provide cooking demonstrations and taste tests for corner store customers.
Earlier this year, our Nutrition & Community Outreach team developed a tiered membership system for corner stores in DC’s food deserts to participate in our Healthy Corners model. The first tier includes the standard comprehensive partnership benefits of our existing Healthy Corners partner corner stores, like free refrigeration units and weekly produce deliveries. The second tier is the pop-up model we brought to Chesapeake Big Market last week. Second-tier partners don’t immediately receive the full benefits of refrigeration and weekly deliveries, but do receive quarterly deliveries of produce which our team sells during pop-up events, as well as nutrition education sessions and free marketing materials, as they test and build local demand for fresh food. The third tier of Healthy Corners membership is for store owners who already sell limited quantities of produce, but are interested in receiving promotional marketing materials, like guides for easy, healthy home recipes, that they can share with customers in an effort to grow the demand for more nutritious products.
Chesapeake Big Market is typical of many corner stores located east of the Anacostia River in Ward 8. The interior of the store is lined with floor to ceiling glass partitions, and customers place their orders at the window for the cashier to fetch and ring the items for check-out. During DCCK’s pop-up event, however, the interior of Chesapeake Big Market had an entirely different setup. Beautiful, engaging displays of kale, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, oranges, bananas, and peaches lined the perimeter of the store for customers to peruse and pick at their leisure.
Be sure to check out photos from the Chesapeake Big Market pop-up on our Flickr page and stay tuned for more information about future Healthy Corners pop-up markets!
Back in April we announced that DCCK had partnered up with Feedback to host Feeding the 5000 in DC. On May 18, in an effort to shed light on the growing crisis of food waste and the practical solutions available, DC Central Kitchen and Feedback, with the support of more than 40 other like-minded organizations and chefs, hosted this community event and provided the public with a free meal made entirely from fresh, top-quality ingredients that would have otherwise been wasted.
The leading national nonprofit empowering students to fight hunger and food waste and DCCK’s national arm, The Campus Kitchens Project, hosted a Disco Chop vegetable processing party the day before Feeding the 5000. Student volunteers with The Campus Kitchens Project joined Feedback, DC Central Kitchen, and other volunteers to help chop the more than 3,000 pounds of recovered produce that would later be cooked and served in the meal the following day.
DC Central Kitchen procured the food and prepared the vegetable curry that was served to more than 5000 members of the public who participated in the event.
Chefs José Andrés, Spike Mendelsohn, and Anthony Lombardo held cooking demonstrations with wasted food alongside notable officials including USDA Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack.
DC-based nonprofits teamed-up to host interactive booths that shared solutions to food waste and offered tasty bites made from otherwise wasted food.
All told, the event resulted in more than 6,700 meals served to the public, all made from food that would have otherwise gone to waste.
DC Central Kitchen and The Campus Kitchens Project are proud to have worked in partnership with Feedback to bring this community event to DC. While our team worked tirelessly to both procure the ingredients and prepare the meal for Feeding the 5000, our day didn’t end there. Just like every other day, DC Central Kitchen continued our normal meal operation of using recovered food to prepare 5,000 meals for homeless shelters and partner nonprofits.
We are honored to be a part of the solution to food waste in DC; because, at DC Central Kitchen, every day is Feeding the 5000.
For the fifth consecutive year, DC Central Kitchen was selected by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to prepare more than 100 kid-submitted recipes for the fifth annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.
Students from across the country ages 8-12 were invited to submit an original recipe of a healthy lunch they enjoy. For the challenge, two finalists from each state, territory, and the District of Columbia were selected to have their recipes prepared by DC Central Kitchen and judged by panelists including Editor-in-Chief, Everyday With Rachel Ray, Lauren Purcell; Executive Director of Let’s Move, Deb Eschmeyer; and two previous kid-winners of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, Tim Burke (Washington, DC) and Braxton Young (Maryland).
All told, DC Central Kitchen prepared over 200 plates for the challenge. One winner from each state, territory, and the District of Columbia will be flown to Washington, DC for the 2016 Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House, where a selection of the winning recipes will be served. Winners will be announced in June.
DC Central Kitchen’s team spends nearly three weeks preparing for the challenge, which includes preparing recipes such as Quinoa Crusted Katsu Curry with Cauliflower Rice, submitted by a child from Guam, and West Wing Chicken with Secret Service Noodles, submitted by a student from Illinois. From sourcing ingredients, to preparing the recipes, and then ultimately plating three of each recipe from all 50 states for judging, the team from DC Central Kitchen is integral to the success of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.
As the school food provider for 11 schools in Washington, DC, DC Central Kitchen is no stranger to preparing healthy meals from scratch for kids. From the organization’s Fresh Feature Friday taste-testing activity that engages young people in their very own lunchtime ‘food democracy,’ to the 6,800 locally-sourced, scratch-cooked, healthy meals served every day to 3,600 kids in DC’s low-income communities , DC Central Kitchen is uniquely positioned to serve as the meal preparation partner for this year’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.
The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge is a joint effort between the First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
View behind-the-scenes photos from the fifth annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge on DC Central Kitchen’s Flickr page here.
At DC Central Kitchen we’re operating innovative programs that fight poverty, hunger, and poor health 365 days a year. Though our work is constant, we’re always striving to do more. In fact, as of Pi Day (March 14, or 3.14) 2016, our Community Outreach team has conducted 314 nutrition education events for our community since January 2015! While many people in our city are aware of our efforts to bring healthy, affordable food to neighborhoods where it would otherwise be scarce, we have made major investments in our outreach and nutrition education efforts in the past few years as well. It’s not enough just to expand the radius of our healthy food distribution network. To create a virtuous circle of healthy behaviors, we’re giving parents, children, and other residents of DC’s food deserts the knowledge and skills they need to make that food part of their daily lives.
In an effort to integrate healthy food and healthy living, DC Central Kitchen’s programs reach DC residents where they are – whether that’s in their community, at school, or at their local corner store. While many DC residents live more than a mile from their nearest full-service grocery store, we’ve found that doesn’t reflect a lack of consumer demand for fresh, nutritious items—just a failure of supply. With over 67 current locations, our Healthy Corners program makes healthy food affordable and accessible. We develop new products that encourage healthy eating on the go, including fresh-cut fruit, scratch-cooked versions of popular snacks, and healthy, ready-to-eat meals packed with wholesome ingredients.
In order to help DC residents learn how to create full meals out of the ingredients sold at their corner store, our Community Outreach team offers cooking demonstrations and provides recipes cards for healthy meals that can be made using affordable products sold at our Healthy Corners locations.
We believe changing behaviors and creating affordable access to healthy food requires going beyond single-pronged solutions. That’s why we’re fighting childhood obesity and poor health through a recent partnership with the DC Department of Health (DOH) and Playworks, a national nonprofit organization that turns recess and afterschool hours into structured opportunities for physical activity and healthy play. DCCK brings nutrition education and healthy food to Playworks’ partner schools in Wards 5, 6, 7, and 8, and Playworks helps DCCK educate our students about easy strategies for increasing daily physical activity. Together, we’re reaching more at-risk children and families more holistically.
“I was greeted with a big hug from, Michael, a fifth grader at one of our partner schools. He was so excited to recognize me from both Playworks Junior Coach Leadership Program (JCLP) and Class Game Time (CGT). After spending almost 2 hours on Wednesday in JCLP learning about nutrients and playing a game called ‘Meal-ay Race,’ Michael was ecstatic to see me in his classroom the next day. He knew that we would be discussing similar topics in his class and was prepared to answer every question. He even helped explain the game to his classmates!”
As the food service provider for 11 schools serving low-income children in DC, we’re preparing and serving up to 6,800 healthy, scratch-cooked breakfasts, lunches, and suppers every day. Like all educators, we want to see our students take home with them what they learn in school, so we offer recipes and cooking demonstrations to help parents transfer the good habits kids learn at school to the dinner table at home.
DC Central Kitchen’s mission is to use food as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities, and our nutrition education initiatives are just one way we’re building a stronger community through food, together. Whether our outreach team is in a school, an afterschool program, or a corner store, we’re working to bridge the gap between knowledge and affordability to create a healthier, more prosperous community for us all.