“Do you really know what you’re getting yourself into?” was the question Ablawa asked herself as she started her first day as a Culinary Job Training (CJT) student in April 2017. After working as a home health aid, Ablawa was looking for something new and was excited to learn about DC Central Kitchen. It didn’t take long for her to know she was in the right place. Like nearly 2,000 graduates before her, Ablawa “saw a big change in myself and…everything that I learned in the program I apply to whatever I’m doing right now.”
After graduating from the program, Ablawa joined DCCK, working in School Food Production at our Nutrition Lab. In time, she took on a larger role with our Healthy Corners program, where she developed a new passion for addressing the lack of healthy food access in Wards 7 and 8. Healthy Corners partners with over 50 corner stores to bring fresh, affordable food to DC neighborhoods without grocery stores. The outbreak of COVID-19 has further emphasized DC’s long existing grocery gap: the 150,000 residents of Wards 7 and 8 share only three grocery stores and having access to healthy, affordable food as never been more crucial. “To learn that in the community where we live, we have fewer grocery stores, which is one of the reasons why Ward 7 and 8 have most of the diet related diseases, really shocked me,” Said Ablawa.
But Healthy Corners was not the final stop on Ablawa’s journey. In the fall of 2020, DC Central Kitchen was thrilled to welcome Ablawa to her new role as Culinary Arts Instructor with the CJT program. Ablawa has enjoyed her new promotion, sharing her passion and knowledge with each student. She is also proud of the COVID-19 response from team members across the organization: “whether we have COVID or there’s no COVID, we are still here working for people [in so many] communities…, that is really good.”
And DC Central Kitchen’s emergency response is not the only thing to be proud of. In January 2021, Ablawa also celebrated becoming an American citizen! “Working here, I saw so many open doors,” she said, reflecting on her four years with DC Central Kitchen, transitioning from student to teacher. “And I know that my DC Central Kitchen family is also proud of me.”
Congratulations, Ablawa, on your citizenship and impressive tenure with DC Central Kitchen! To learn more about our Culinary Job Training Program, please click here. To learn more about our Healthy Corners program, please click here. To learn more about our COVID-19 Emergency Response Efforts, please click here.