At DC Central Kitchen, we use food as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities. Part of that mission to squeeze every ounce of impact out of the food we use includes creatively preventing food waste and safeguarding the environment.
That’s why for three decades, we have pioneered food recovery, local farm-to-school models, and sustainable social enterprises. Since 1989, we have prevented more than 34 million pounds of food waste, including more than 540,000 pounds of food last year. Some of our longest partnerships are with local farmers and growers, who grow the fresh ingredients we buy for the scratch-cooked meals our Healthy School Food team serves at 18 schools. Our staff even formed the DCCK “Green Team,” an internal, cross-departmental working group where they can discuss and spearhead future strategies for developing “green” practices and furthering sustainability efforts in our kitchens, offices, cafes, and partner schools.
We are committed to creating a more just and sustainable future for all. That’s why our new facility, The Michael R. Klein Center for Jobs and Justice, will prioritize sustainability through several thoughtful initiatives.
Fighting Food Waste: With increased cold storage, we will be even more agile in our ability to recover fresh, unprepared food items from our array of food donors across the region. Once food reaches our kitchen, we will expand our current pilot program with LeanPath’s waste tracker technology. LeanPath data informs our production methods, menu development, and recipe selection in our school and café operations and is primed to grow its impact across our central kitchen operation. In The Klein Center, we will broaden the number of staff receiving LeanPath training, increase our composting efforts, and install a new bio-digester, which will cleanly, securely divert food scraps back into our water system instead of landfills.
Leading in Energy and Environmental Design: The Klein Center is located in the new RiverPoint waterfront development. RiverPoint is LEED Certified, meaning our new building minimizes unnecessary energy usage, enhances water efficiency, reduces carbon emissions, and demonstrates other good “green” building practices at the intersection of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers.
Prioritizing the Health and Wellness of Our People: Our headquarters will be Fitwel Certified and include wellness spaces for staff and students to ensure their physical and mental needs are met throughout the workday. The Klein Center’s light-filled, 36,000-square-foot space will allow for self-care sessions and group retreats, such as yoga classes, journaling workshops, and healthy cooking demonstrations.
A Locally-sourced Social Enterprise Cafe: The Klein Center will host our third social enterprise cafe, where members of the community can purchase fresh, nutritious meals and our Culinary Job Training (CJT) students can receive hands-on experience with hospitality service while interning at the café. As with our two other locations, our menu will prominently feature locally-sourced, healthy ingredients from farmers and growers.
Enhanced Local Farm Partnerships: Our support for local farmers will extend beyond sourcing fresh produce and vegetables for our programs. In our new space, we will co-locate with acclaimed food justice social enterprise Dreaming Out Loud and their accelerator program for disadvantaged food entrepreneurs. We are also collaborating with Dreaming Out Loud on a Community Supported Agriculture program for DCCK staff that will expand sales opportunities for Black and value-aligned farmers in their food hub network while helping our staff and their families access fresh, healthy, local foods.
Our new space will model the best of our mission and city – and we need your help this Earth Day to make it a reality. If you are seeking to support environmentally conscious organizations, please consider contributing to our new, sustainable space. Will you invest in a dignified, healthy environment for our students and staff today with a fully matched donation?