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Help us move our Culinary Job Training Program forward

DC Central Kitchen’s culinary job training (CJT) program began as a way to get at the root cause of hunger: poverty. By training men and women with histories of incarceration, homelessness, and trauma for careers in the growing culinary and hospitality industries in DC, we empower our neighbors to leave hunger and poverty behind for good. CJT has grown significantly over the years and just had its most successful year yet, with 104 graduates, who secured employment at prestigious locations like Jaleo, The Ritz-Carlton, Old Ebbitt Grill, and Fiola Mare.

When you support DC Central Kitchen, you’re investing in our comprehensive approach to building on our students’ strengths, while we work with them to lower the barriers that have hindered them in the past. Our training program begins long before the first day of class when our recruitment team fans out to homeless shelters, transitional homes, correctional facilities, and other front-line agencies to meet potential students and guide them through the application process. Then, once enrolled, our students spend about half their day in the kitchen sharpening their knife skills, learning culinary theory, and earning credentials in subjects like food safety and allergen awareness. And they spend the rest of their time identifying and addressing the root causes of the barriers they face through individual and small group counseling, customized case management, professional skills coaching, and targeted referrals to outside experts. We refer to this powerful combination as knife and life skills, and its why our students are prepared for all the obstacles that come with a job.

After nine weeks in the program, students are partnered with mentoring chefs for a three-week internship. This process gives our students some experience in a new environment and allows them to put into practice what they have learned, both in and out of the kitchen. Once internships are done, students spend a couple of weeks in a guided career development module that includes interview training, resume support, and assistance with job searching with our experienced staff and professional volunteers. After fourteen weeks, our students walk the stage at graduation, but our program does not end. Each student receives two years of tailored post-graduation support.

This unique approach is yielding real results:


In 2019, with your help, we will bring CJT to the next level. We will expand our reach by:

  • Permanently extending our training program’s hours of operation at our downtown headquarters to allow for both day and evening classes, so we can serve students with alternative scheduling needs.
  • Opening a training kitchen and café in southeast, DC that is focused on serving DC’s growing number of young people, ages 18-25, who are not in school or working.

We will be expanding our post-graduation supports to help our graduates who have secured employment grow in their careers and earn that next promotion. This will include:

  • Specialized classes and trainings at DC Central Kitchen
  • Dedicated staff to counsel former students on their career trajectories

Please support DC Central Kitchen and the culinary job training program by making a donation today.