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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Healthy Corners pop-up markets expand access to fresh produce in DC’s food deserts

, June 15th, 2016

Website

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!



DCCK selected as food provider for 12 DC public schools

, May 24th, 2016

school food photo

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, and pending approval by DC Council and the Attorney General, DCCK will provide healthy, scratch-cooked meals to schoolchildren at 12 District schools in Ward 7. 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

HLC

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.



DC Central Kitchen earns national school lunch award

, October 15th, 2015

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On Tuesday, DC Central Kitchen was presented with a Golden Carrot Award and a $2,015 grant from the Physicians Committee. The Golden Carrot Awards, established in 2004, recognizes food service teams in both public and private school districts doing exceptional work to improve the healthfulness of school lunches.

During the spring 2015 semester, DCCK participated in a plant-based pilot program at Walker Jones Education Campus – one of 10 schools served by DC Central Kitchen – where students were introduced to six different plant-based vegan entrées. The most popular meals—chili, pasta with chickpeas, barbecue tofu bites, and veggie burgers—will make their way into the regular lineup as daily vegetarian options at Walker Jones and in the nine other district schools where DC Central Kitchen is the food service provider.

“Providing students with exposure to new foods is always a fun challenge. We see students we first started working with as kindergartners now graduate as eighth graders with a new palate and appreciation for fresh, healthful foods.”– Katie Nash, R.D., L.D., School Food Program Manager, DC Central Kitchen

Receiving the Golden Carrot Award reinforces DC Central Kitchen’s unique approach to school food. Each of the more than 6,300 daily meals prepared for DC schoolchildren are made from scratch and contain at least two local ingredients. Our popular vegetable democracy taste tests, “Fresh Feature Fridays,” allow students vote on vegetables prepared their favorite way and see it on their lunch menu the following month.

At DC Central Kitchen, we are proving that healthy, scratch-cooked meals can be enjoyable for children, affordable for school districts, and valuable for teachers who need children to be nourished and focused.

To learn more about the Golden Carrot Awards visit HealthySchoolLunches.org.



DCCK’s CEO awarded highest honor from Williams College

, September 22nd, 2015

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Last weekend, DC Central Kitchen’s fearless leader, Mike Curtin, received a Bicentennial Medal from Williams College – his Alma mater.

Established in 1993 in honor of the college’s 200th anniversary, Bicentennial Medals honor members of the Williams community for distinguished achievement in any field of endeavor. Curtin received his medal alongside four other distinguished alumni during Fall Convocation, for which he was also the keynote speaker.

His remarks moved families, alumni, and current seniors alike as he spoke about his journey and the winding path that brought him to DC Central Kitchen. Curtin stated during his remarks: “Professors Frost and Eusden encouraged me to do something that at the time was a little unusual…they encouraged me to find MY truth, to catch MY salamander; and they – and everything I experienced in and out of the classroom at Williams gave me the confidence to believe I could do that.”

Curtin came to DC Central Kitchen in 2004, drawing on his experiences as an entrepreneur in the restaurant business to expand the Kitchen’s social enterprise program from less than $500,000 in 2005 to over $7 million in 2014. Under his leadership, DCCK’s social enterprise portfolio expanded from a small catering outfit to include full-service catering and contract meals (Fresh Start Catering), locally-sourced, scratched-cooked school meals, and Healthy Corners, our wholesale program that delivers fresh produce and healthy snacks to corner stores in Washington, DC’s food deserts.

“The Kitchen brings people together around a common table, and contextualizes and elevates a dialogue that gives a voice to the voiceless – including those that have been marginalized – and offers hope where there is mostly despair and resignation.”– Michael F. Curtin, Jr., CEO, DC Central Kitchen

Today, the Kitchen has received numerous accolades under Mike’s guidance, including: The Mayor’s Environmental Excellence Award, the Washington Business Journal’s Green Business Award for Innovation, The DC Chamber of Commerce 2012 and Community Impact Award; and DCCK’s social enterprise was named one of the top 10 social enterprise business in the world by the founder of the Social Enterprise World Forum. In 2015 he received the Community Impact Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Everyone at DC Central Kitchen joins the Williams community in congratulating Mike on this well-deserved honor! Congratulations, Mike!

Watch Mike Curtin’s keynote remarks and Bicentennial Medal presentation at Williams College Fall Convocation.