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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Updates for Meal Production

DC Central Kitchen again selected as DC Public Schools food service contractor!

, July 12th, 2016

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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.

We fed the 5000!

, May 24th, 2016

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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.

DCCK prepares more than 100 lunches for the fifth annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge

, May 6th, 2016


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.

DCCK and UK-based Feedback bring popular food waste awareness event to DC

, April 19th, 2016

Feeding the 5000

In the United States we throw away 40 percent of our food supply each year, even though 49 million Americans don’t have enough to eat.  In an effort to shed light on the growing crisis of food waste and the practical solutions available, Feedback, a London-based nonprofit organization dedicated to ending food waste at every level of the food system, has, with the support of The Rockefeller Foundation, partnered with DC Central Kitchen and more than 40 other like-minded organizations and chefs to bring Feeding the 5000 to Washington, DC.

As Feedback’s flagship campaign, Feeding the 5000 events showcase and promote the positive and delicious solutions to the global food waste crisis. In DC, the event will bring together the public and an alliance of partner organizations to raise awareness of the scale of food waste in the U.S. and globally.

DC Central Kitchen invites its friends, investors, and supporters to join us at #Feeding5000DC on May 18th from 11am-4pm on the Woodrow Wilson Plaza of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW) where DC Central Kitchen and Feedback will provide 5,000 members of the public with a free meal made entirely from fresh, top-quality ingredients that would have otherwise been wasted.

Given DCCK’s experience in food recovery and our daily meal operation preparing over 12,000 meals for DC’s homeless shelters, rehabilitation clinics, and schools, DC Central Kitchen will both procure the ingredients and prepare the meal for Feedback’s Feeding the 5000 DC event. DC Central Kitchen’s Chairman Emeritus and Culinary Ambassador for the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves chef José Andrés; Chairman of DC’s Food Policy Council, chef Spike Mendelsohn; chef Anthony Lombardo; and other acclaimed foodies and food policy experts are expected to lend their support to the festivities. The event will also showcase the work of DC government, nonprofit organizations, and other partners in the fight against food waste and will highlight a range of issues linked to the global food waste crisis and the practical solutions available.

The largest response to food waste and hunger in the country and now on more than 50 high school and college campuses across the country, The Campus Kitchens Project will host DC’s “Disco Chop Party” on May 17th, where student volunteers and seniors will work together to help slice and dice the recovered vegetables that will be served at the main festival the following day. The Campus Kitchen’s Project is DC Central Kitchen’s national arm replicating our model of food recovery and meal distribution on high school and college campuses across the country.

Feedback has been catalyzing national movements to tackle food waste around the world. Since 2009, their guerilla style events include over 34 Feeding the 5000 events in locations such as Paris, Dublin, Milan, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Brussels, equating to more than 170,000 meals. Encouraged by its success in helping reduce household waste by 21% in the UK, and in catalyzing the food waste reduction movement in France, Feedback is now teaming up with American citizens, governments, non-governmental organizations, experts and celebrity chefs together to kick-start and scale up the solutions to food waste nationwide.

DCCK friends, investors, and supporters are invited to join us at #Feeding5000DC on May 18th and engage in the global conversation to take food waste #OffTheMenu.

To learn more or to volunteer visit and follow @FeedbackOrg.

Not even a blizzard can stop us

, January 27th, 2016

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You’ve heard us say before that DC Central Kitchen never closes – and we don’t. During Storm Jonas, our staff and volunteers went beyond our normal meal commitments last weekend to provide more than 20,000 healthy meals and snacks for our neighbors in need. Friday through Saturday, our kitchen was open and in full operation.

On Saturday during the height of the blizzard, the Red Cross contacted us to provide 400 meals for an emergency shelter. We jumped into high gear and prepared not only a hot meal for Saturday night, but thanks to a generous donation from the Capital Area Food Bank of 25,000 KIND Bars, were also able send out healthy snacks for Sunday morning.

On Saturday night when our normal snow removal team suffered a broken snow plow, we worked with the Mayor’s office and District government to get our driveway cleared, while our staff recruited some fearless volunteers to help shovel out our trucks on Sunday morning. This team effort allowed us to deliver our regular meal count of 5,000 meals on Sunday afternoon.

Outside of the Kitchen, our annual two-day joint fundraiser with fellow nonprofit Martha’s Table, Sips & Suppers, was also scheduled to take place last weekend. Out of concern for the safety of our guests and partner restaurants, our team and the team at Martha’s Table acted quickly to postpone Saturday’s event and secure a new date for Sips, which will now take place this coming Saturday, January 30 at the Newseum. Most Suppers, which were scheduled to take place on Sunday evening at more than 30 homes throughout DC, will be rescheduled to a later date, and a select few hosts soldiered on and hosted the festive fine dining occasion at their homes despite the weather. We are incredibly grateful to our partner chefs who spend their own time and money to prepare for this event – and who have gone out of their way to keep their commitment to DCCK and Martha’s Table despite the date change.

Rain, sleet, snow, or shine, DC Central Kitchen never closes. We would not be able to continue our work to nourish our neighbors and provide hope for the hopeless if it weren’t for our dedicated staff, volunteers, and supporters. Thanks to our fellow #hungerfighters who stood by us to get the job done. Hunger doesn’t take a snow day. And, thanks to the support of so many in our community, neither do we.

Staff profile: Crystal Marshall

, September 17th, 2015


Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw was once quoted saying: “The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” That concept is embodied by one of our staff members and Culinary Job Training (CJT) graduates, Crystal Marshall.

Crystal is living proof that with enough drive and passion, a person can truly turn their life around. After returning home from prison with a felony on her record, Crystal knew she would have to build her life up from scratch. At age 30, she had no prior work experience and nothing to her name except a very supportive family, and more than a little ambition.

After returning home from prison, Crystal began volunteering at a local nonprofit called Friendship Place in order to gain community service hours as terms of her release. It was here that she learned about DC Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training program. Crystal wanted to live a life of purpose; she wanted to find a way to do something she enjoyed, while also earning a living wage, and she knew this would be a difficult task with a felony on her record. She had never cooked before, but wanted to find a way to gain marketable skills, allowing her to find more than just a job, but a career.  So, she set out to pursue her goals –  a woman on a mission.

“I didn’t want to just learn how to do something and get a job; I wanted to acquire a skill that I could use to get other jobs. So, I focused on learning, as opposed to just being there. I showed up every morning on time, excited about being there.”– Crystal Marshall

Upon graduating from CJT in January 2013, Crystal began working at Geppetto Catering in Riverdale, Maryland. Six months later, Crystal was hired by DCCK to work in our School Food program for which we serve up 4,300 locally-sourced, scratch-cooked meals to low-income D.C. schoolchildren every day. Only one year after joining the School Food team, Crystal found herself promoted to a supervisor position. She now works in DC Central Kitchen’s Nutrition Lab in Northeast, DC, overseeing her team of 12 staff as they all work together to meet each day’s quota of healthy meals for 10 schools in the District.

Not missing a beat since choosing to change her life’s path, Crystal not only has a job she loves, but has nearly completed a degree in computer science as well. Crystal climbed onto a moving train that’s not stopping anytime soon. She feels she has recreated herself. As this incredible young woman continues to beat the odds, it seems only the sky is the limit for her.