At DC Central Kitchen, we know that hunger is a solvable problem. We also know that food alone will never end hunger. Ending hunger requires job creation, collaboration, strategic and principled policy changes, and as our CEO Mike Curtin says, “continuing to lift up the perspectives of those experiencing food insecurity and holding our efforts accountable to them.”
That’s why we were honored to participate in The White House’s second ever National Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health on Wednesday, September 28th.
As part of the conference, DCCK CEO Mike Curtin moderated the Nourishing Bright Futures: Ensuring Affordable Food for all Children and Families panel with Shavana Howard, Assistant Secretary of Family Support, Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services; Donna Martin, Director of School Nutrition Programs, Burke County Public Schools (GA); Mark Ramos, President, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 1428; and Shannon Razsadin, President and Executive Director, Military Family Advisory Network.
Mike and the panelists engaged in a lively, thoughtful discussion, focusing on the necessity of developing career pathways and family-sustaining jobs, combating long-held stigmas and systemic barriers to free school lunches, changing the narrative on food security for military families, and expanding national nutrition education programs for schools.
One thing was clear from the panel – ending hunger requires a commitment from all of us, but it is possible. We have the tools. We have the resources. We just need, as Mike said in his closing remarks, “to summon the political and social will to make ending hunger a national priority, so we can make hunger in America a thing of the past.”
DCCK’s defining values showed up again in the closing plenary, delivered by our Chair Emeritus and devoted volunteer, José Andrés. Andrés, who recently pledged $500,000 toward the expansion of our Healthy Corners program and other pioneering solutions to hunger and poverty, invoked our founder Robert Egger and reminded the attendees of Egger’s adage that “charity is often about the redemption of the giver, when it must be about the liberation of the receiver.”
Together in collaboration with partners like José and our friends at Bowery Farming, who have committed as part of the White House Conference to expanding their product offerings at Healthy Corners stores, we are ready to serve more healthy food, provide more job training opportunities, and deliver higher quantities of fresh produce and vegetables to more corner stores throughout the District.
In just a few weeks, we will open the nation’s most ambitious community kitchen and urban food hub at the Klein Center for Jobs & Justice, where we will double our award-winning job training and farm-to-school programs, bring meals to families and community facilities during school closures, and continue to grow our pioneering Healthy Corners program. That, as Mike put during his panel remarks, is the embodiment of our “moonshot” to solve the problem of hunger in our nation’s capital.