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What sets DC Central Kitchen apart

Did you know that DC Central Kitchen turned thirty this year?

Since we got started in 1989, we’ve served 37 million meals. We’ve rescued 32 million pounds of surplus food and put it to good use. Most importantly, we’ve empowered nearly 2,000 individuals to launch new careers through our acclaimed Culinary Job Training program.

All along the way, we’ve taken chances. Tried new ideas. Failed, learned, and tried again. But through everything we’ve done over the past three decades, there’s been one clear link: using food as a tool for life-changing job training and job creation.

DC Central Kitchen is committed to training people for good jobs and creating those good jobs ourselves. That commitment means we’ve done things others said were impossible.

  • Preparing people to reenter society and rejoin the workforce after a period of incarceration?Absolutely – and someone who completes our program is 91% less likely to return to prison than the national average.
  • Employing our culinary graduates to serve scratch-cooked farm-to-school meals at scale? Sure, it’s possible – and we have a 96% student approval rating to prove it.
  • Opening a healthy cafe in Southeast DC that doubles as an on-the-job training program for young adults? We did that too, and our first 17 graduates completed our rigorous curriculum last month, landing management-track positions across the city.

In the year ahead, we’re strategically focused on our job training and job creation efforts – offering a social return on your investment of more than 600 percent.

What will this focus on job training and job creation empower us to do in our community this year?

  • Train more people than ever before. Between our traditional job training program in downtown DC for adults facing high barriers to employment and our new on-the-job-training model for young adults at DC Central Kitchen Cafe in Southeast DC, we will prepare 150 people for new careers.
  • Set students up for long-term success. From digital and financial literacy training, to expanded post-graduation career advising, to DC’s first official apprenticeship program for hospitality management, we’re equipping our graduates to grow beyond entry-level employment and meet the talent needs of DC’s restaurants and hotels.
  • Sustain more than 80 living wage jobs for our own culinary graduates at DC Central Kitchen. As employees of DC Central Kitchen, our graduates prepare nutritious meals for schoolchildren and nonprofits, offer delicious food and great service via our new cafe and expanded catering operation, and work across our organization as job coaches, culinary instructors, database managers, and nutrition educators. These graduates are building their careers while bringing valuable insights into the strengths, aspirations, and priorities of our community.

Job training and job creation are what set DC Central Kitchen apart. They always have, and they’re the centerpiece of our strategy going forward. In the months and years ahead, you’re going to hear more from us about career pathways, apprenticeships, and helping all our neighbors share in this city’s growing prosperity. You’ll hear less about recovering surplus food, delivering shelter meals, and replicating our model outside of DC. We’ll still do that work with care and purpose, but we have a responsibility to direct our attention – and your generous support – to the highest impact activities that change lives.

Please consider making a gift today so we can keep on testing, learning, and transforming our community for the better. Don’t forget – all gifts made by November 30, up to $100,000, will be doubled via a special matching challenge!

Donate to DC Central Kitchen today>>