DC Central Kitchen has distributed over two million meals and more than one million pounds of fresh fruit and veggies to children, families and seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic in response to the rising food insecurity rate in Washington, DC.
But we’re not alone. Two of our longtime partners, World Central Kitchen and Dreaming Out Loud, have together served another 1.5 million emergency meals. Through this work, each group has identified a series of food access gaps facing vulnerable groups of DC residents that are set to worsen sharply over this fall and winter.
Our findings were confirmed by the DC Office of Planning’s recent Food Access and Food Security Report, which states: “COVID-19 has exacerbated food insecurity in the District; it is projected that the District’s food insecurity rate in 2020 will be at least 16%, with even higher rates among vulnerable populations, including the elderly [and] children.”
In response to this crisis, in partnership with World Central Kitchen and Dreaming Out Loud, we’ve launched a brand new ‘mobile feeding’ initiative that will bring nutritious meals and fresh, local produce directly to children, families, and seniors at 14 high-need locations where we know our neighbors are falling through the cracks, thereby bringing an additional 260,000 meals to DC children, families, and seniors in need of emergency food assistance between now and March.
Dreaming Out Loud, DC’s leading Black-led food justice social enterprise has recruited 4 food entrepreneurs from DC’s systemically marginalized neighborhoods to prepare meals as part of this effort – supporting their businesses while reinvesting these resources in our own communities.
To supplement, World Central Kitchen plans to contract with up to 5 local restaurants to prepare meals as a financial lifeline when the winter months make outdoor dining even harder.
Further, at DC Central Kitchen, this project will allow us to redeploy school-based foodservice employees while schools remain reliant on distance learning, thus maintaining their full-time hours and benefits.
“In terms of assembling this group, it’s a combination of folks who have both the networks and connections at a grassroots level but can also produce and coordinate at a significant scale in terms of food relief activities,” said Chris Bradshaw, Founder and Executive Director of Dreaming Out Loud.
Together, we’re prepared to bring healthy and dignified food to the DC children and seniors who will need it most over these fall and winter months. At the same time, we will be financially supporting DC food entrepreneurs and restaurants who might otherwise face an existential threat in the coming months without additional business opportunities.
This new project has been generously supported by Craig Newmark (founder of Craigslist), No Kid Hungry, Safeway’s Nourishing Neighbors Community Relief Initiative, and Nationals Philanthropies. To contribute, please visit DC Central Kitchen’s donation page at www.dccentralkitchen.org/donate or the donation pages of our partners, World Central Kitchen, and Dreaming Out Loud.