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Community Partnerships Shine this Thanksgiving Season

Olivia Shaffett

In DC Central Kitchen’s 33 years of operations, it has never been harder to find turkey donations than this year. Due to an array of supply chain challenges and rising prices at a time of increased food insecurity, our Thanksgiving operations required a little creativity and a lot of collaboration this year.  

Our Procurement Team deployed a generous grant from our long-time supporters at The Morningstar Foundation to purchase the more than 900 additional turkeys we needed this holiday on top of the 370 turkeys that were donated by an array of local partners, including Butterball and VMware. Thanks to these timely contributions, in a single day on Friday, November 17th, we distributed a total of 1,300 whole turkeys to more than a dozen nonprofits, community organizations, and schools.   

The front-line partners participating in this massive logistical undertaking included Meade Memorial Church, the Moorish Temple, and National Housing Trust Communities. We also secured a turkey for each current student enrolled in our Culinary Job Training program and partnered with two organizations led by distinguished alumni of our training program.  100 turkeys went to Men Giving Back, a Ward 8 coalition co-founded by DCCK’s Senior Manager of Culinary Operations Dawain Arrington focused on youth engagement and violence prevention while 150 turkeys went to Plenty to Eat, a Ward 5 food pantry founded by Connie Williams. 

Receiving 350 turkeys from our distribution, the Southwest Business Improvement District (SWBID) delivered the largest number of turkeys to our new neighbors in the Southwest DC community, including Greenleaf Senior Center, Ward 6 Mutual Aid, and James Creek.  

But Thanksgiving meals are more than just the staple main course. In addition to distributing turkeys to partner organizations and allies, we will deliver thousands of Thanksgiving meals this week using side dishes prepared by volunteers from the Edlavitch DC Jewish Cultural Center (DCJCC)’s annual Everything But The Turkey (EBTT) event.  

Thanks to donations from Class Produce, Keany Produce, and H&S Bakery, this year’s DCJCC volunteers were able to produce 12,000 servings of side dishes featuring green beans and yams, while also creating apple crumble pies to add a sweet finish to our meals. 

“This event would not be what it is without DC Central Kitchen. What we want our volunteers to take away from this day is that food insecurity is a problem 365 days a year. We want this one week of volunteering to be an entry point for them,” says Sonya Weisburd, DCJCC Director for Social Responsibility.  

Chloé White, a volunteer with the DCJCC’s Entry Point DC program for young professionals, noted, “It’s always good for DC residents to find a place to volunteer and perform acts of service for the community. Why not spend a couple of hours on a Sunday helping people have a wonderful Thanksgiving?” 

The EBTT volunteers and our donors were not our only community partners helping our community have a wonderful Thanksgiving this season. Our long-running Thanksgiving partners at Cuisine Solutions generously donated 1,200 pounds of delicious, prepared turkey that was ideal for our hard-working culinary team to incorporate into our menus without breaking down entire turkeys in our limited kitchen space. 

In addition, over the past month, our long-time partners at FRESHFARM raised over $1,000 from market shoppers which our procurement then used to purchase additional produce at various Dupont Market stalls. We were able to source potatoes, kale greens, and broccoli from several local vendors, including Dodo Farms, Chicano Sol Farm, Gardener’s Gourmet, Pleitez, Garner’s Produce LLC, New Morning Farm, Potomac Vegetable Farms, Shenandoah Seasonal, Spring Valley Farm and Orchard, and Twin Spring Fruit Farm that will be incorporated into upcoming menus from the Kitchen.  

Finally, we worked with DC Food Project to ensure DC students and their families have access to nutritious food this holiday break by distributing 625 bags of hearty dry goods for their annual community bag distribution. 

Thanks to all our partners and allies, we overcame the significant supply chain and inflationary challenges facing our efforts and more than 14,000 of our neighbors are sharing in a happier Thanksgiving this year. We are so grateful for the continued support of our community. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at DC Central Kitchen!