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Posted by Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary in Conservation Food and Nutrition Farming
Dec 08, 2010

My family spent Thanksgiving morning at the D.C. Central Kitchen, where we helped prepare dinners for the homeless and needy in our nation’s capitol.  While some might describe our act as ‘giving to others,’ truth is that it was a gift to us.  I want my children, aged 10 and 11, to understand that not everyone has what they do and that we need to care about others and serve our community.  We all had a blast, by the way, and it made this Thanksgiving one of the best ever!

This is not a soup kitchen, but a centralized kitchen facility that prepares around 4,000 meals daily which are delivered by a fleet of trucks to partner agencies like homeless shelters, rehabilitation clinics, and after school programs. 

DC Central Kitchen runs a culinary job training program.  The goal is to prepare unemployed, underemployed, previously incarcerated, and homeless adults for careers in food service.  And they are succeeding.  Last year, their graduates had an 80% placement rate and after six months a 73% job retention rate.  Some of the graduates are hired by Fresh Start, DC Central Kitchen’s catering arm.  Among other things, Fresh Start is providing made-from-scratch meals for seven DC public elementary schools.

DC Central Kitchen is an awesome community organization that also makes connections between farmers and the people they serve.  Thousands of pounds of produce from local farms are procured by DC Central Kitchen.  Because of blemishes or odd shaping, some of what they buy would otherwise go to waste, if not for a partnership that facilitates discounted sales in which everyone wins.

Watch this video.  You’ll understand why my family and I were so inspired.