As a mission-driven social enterprise, DC Central Kitchen is proud to employ 86 graduates of our Culinary Job Training program at living wages with comprehensive health benefits. That’s an expensive endeavor, but we know that meaningful employment opportunities are our best weapon against the root cause of hunger: poverty.
We also know poverty is an intergenerational issue, as some families are able to pass resources and assets onto their children, and others aren’t. These disparities compound over time, fueled by structural issues like racially discriminatory housing policies. Today, right here in the DC region, “white households have a net worth 81 times that of black households” with the latter averaging just $3,500 in net worth according to the Urban Institute.
At DC Central Kitchen, we’re pushing back on this generational trend by making a significant investment in our employees’ retirement funds. We don’t have many resources to spare. But we believe in putting our money where our mission is, so we’ve elected to use last year’s small operating surplus to seed 401(k) retirement accounts for everyone who works at DC Central Kitchen.
Once these accounts are opened, we’ll match every single dollar our employees contribute, up to four percent of their salary. We know it can be a challenge for someone making our starting hourly wage of $14.25 to set aside money for retirement in DC’s expensive market, so in addition to this match, we’re offering enhanced financial literacy education to our students and staff that will help them make the most of their resources.
We believe that it isn’t enough for nonprofits to talk about equity and inclusive economic opportunity. We need to live those values within our organizations, and that starts with how we build our budgets, support our employees, and spend our limited resources. Thank you for investing in our efforts to be a better employer.