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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Culinary Job Training team launches CJT Café to provide hands-on training for students

, August 26th, 2016

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Last month our Culinary Job Training team piloted the first-ever CJT Café, a fast casual, free dining experience for DC Central Kitchen volunteers run entirely by current students. The concept is an attempt to further students’ growth in the kitchen by providing hands-on training that teaches students about working from a set menu, firing orders, and front-of-house customer service.

“The café gives our students the opportunity to work efficiently under pressure, set up their mise en place correctly, become faster, and develop the unique sense of urgency that a cook must have.” – Chef Daniela Hurtado, Culinary Instructor

Since launch, the students have prepared more than 150 lunch items from the CJT Café for DCCK staff and volunteers. The menu includes salads, such as the CJT House Salad made with shredded lettuce, baby spinach, tomato, crumbled blue cheese, red onion, and balsamic vinaigrette; omelets; sandwiches; roasted chicken; pastas; seafood; and, homemade soups.

As the students add new culinary skills to their training, the CJT Café menu will evolve to offer new items. Currently the CJT Café is open to DCCK volunteers who support our Friday morning meal preparation shift, and we plan to offer additional service hours with future classes.

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.

Strawberries & Salad Greens Day: DCCK celebrates local, seasonal food at DC Schools

, June 17th, 2016


“Umm, excuse me miss; you said you were going to teach me about how strawberries grow after I try this salad. I’ve tried it!” an eager Aiton Elementary student exclaimed while examining a little plant with two new strawberries among its leaves.

On Wednesday, June 8th, DC Central Kitchen’s school foods team celebrated the benefits of local, seasonable food with students at Aiton Elementary School.

While passing out tasting plates of our homemade strawberry salad over lunch, the team educated students about the benefits of healthy eating and explained that the delicious strawberries and salad greens came from Kilmer’s Orchard and Mock’s Greenhouse, two of DCCK’s partner farms in West Virginia.

After lunch, students participated in a nutrition education session with our traveling, edible exhibit, the Truck Farm. The Truck Farm is a garden in the bed of a pick-up truck that we bring to schools and youth programs to educate children about how fruits and vegetables grow.

DCCK is no stranger to using local fruits and vegetables in our meals. This school year alone, school lunches have included food made from 251,152 pounds of local product, and nearly 40% of all food used in our school meals is locally grown.

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.