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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Transparency & Accountability

Among America’s front-line nonprofits, DC Central Kitchen offers unmatched transparency and accountability to our donors and stakeholders.

From 2011 – 2013, DCCK maintained a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator. In 2014, we maintained our 4 star rating for Accountability and Transparency, but Charity Navigator reduced DCCK’s score on two financial performance metrics. There was no meaningful change in our overhead calculation (which remains low) or our fundraising efficiency (which remains high), but rather a slowdown in ‘primary revenue growth’ and ‘program expenses growth.’ In previous years, we had demonstrated growth rates of 20% or more due to the rapid expansion of our social enterprise activities, but in 2014, we worked to improve efficiencies within DCCK’s programs rather than expand their budgets in ways that would not be sustainable. This effort followed a deliberate strategic choice by our board and staff to increase social impact without commensurate increases in cash spending.

We believe more spending doesn’t always guarantee more impact. In 2014, we served more meals, trained more jobless men and women for culinary careers, and prevented the waste of more food than ever before. But we did those things by better leveraging donated space and equipment, consolidating our purchasing, and deploying existing staff more efficiently—activities that don’t fully translate to the current rating system. We believe Charity Navigator has a significant role to play in vetting responsible charities, and we remain dedicated to working with them as they continue to develop evaluation methodologies that most accurately reflect the quality and impact of work being done on the ground.

Questions about DCCK’s response to our Charity Navigator rating, overall financial position, fundraising practices, or programmatic impact may be directed to Chief Development Officer Alexander Moore at 202-847-0220 or

Financial Overview: Where We Get Our Money

Like most other direct service nonprofits, DCCK receives charitable contributions through individual donations, private foundations, corporate foundations and giving programs, and signature events and fundraisers. We are a proud member of the United Way of the National Capital Area, an entity that provides another critical stream of income. All told, these different revenue streams generate more than $5 million dollars for DCCK and its program each year.

That’s a lot of money, and we’re sincerely grateful to the thousands of individuals across the country who make essential contributions to our programs and mission. But these gifts are not our only, or even largest, source of income! For the past several years, we’ve generated approximately half of our annual budget through social enterprise.

From writing a tax-deductible check over the holidays, to buying tickets to Capital Food Fight to buying boxed lunches for your next company meeting, there are many ways to support DC Central Kitchen; and we use each of these contributions responsibly and effectively in service of our programs and our clients.

Financial Responsibility: How We Use our Donor’s Dollars

As the District’s leading nonprofit provider of prepared meals to low-income residents, Food Sourcing is a critical area of our expenses. We help keep our costs low by recovering more than two tons of surplus food each day. We also pioneered a new approach to managing our costs while increasing the nutritional quality of our meals. By working with local farmers to purchase and recover fruits and vegetables that are a little too large, small, or off-color for retail sales, we’ve added literally tons of fresh produce to our meals at minimal expense. And while we’re committed to saving costs where we can, we don’t skimp on our service programs overall; our program expense ratio is highly competitive, with 83 cents of every donated dollar directly supporting our clients.

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In these tough economic times, DCCK is committed to Creating Jobs and Hiring Out-of-Work Adults. All of our kitchens and programs are staffed by at-risk, formerly jobless men and women who completed our Culinary Job Training program and now earn living wages and full benefits. Each year, our new crop of graduates invests more than $300,000 in payroll taxes into DC’s coffers while saving the city more than $2 million in incarceration and public benefit costs. By keeping our graduates employed and insured, we keep them out of the emergency room, unemployment line, and prison cell.

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We’re also committed to Hiring Disadvantaged Populations and empowering them to advance their careers. Our staff thus reflects the diversity and authenticity of the community we live in and serve.

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Compensation & Benefits

In a time of falling wages and a depleted middle class, we’re committed to providing fair wages and good benefits to our employees. We also believe in being up-front about our personnel costs; delivering top-quality services to 12,000 people each year is no small task and we’re proud to employ and insure 146 committed, talented individuals to support the work of DC Central Kitchen full-time.

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