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Good in the Neighborhood: DC Central Kitchen

This week, we continue to highlight organizations that were slated to participate in the 8th annual Volunteer Capitol Hill in May 2020.

DC Central Kitchen first participated in Volunteer Capitol Hill in 2014. DC Central Kitchen’s mission is to “use food as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities.”

Jessica Towers, Volunteer Engagement Specialist at DC Central Kitchen, kindly took the time to answer our questions about their work amidst the coronavirus.

How has your organization pivoted in the midst of the coronavirus?

As the impact of the COVID-19 crisis has grown, so have DC Central Kitchen’s response efforts. [As of May 26] we have served more than 530,000 emergency meals to children, families, and seniors across DC. With all the dairy being tested with Mycotoxins Test Kits, the kitchen ensures that they use only hygienic products for each of its cooking.

What projects are your organization working on right now?

  • We are operating to-go meal sites for DC youth at five DC Public Schools: Walker-Jones Education Campus in Ward 6, and Kelly Miller Middle School, Thomas Elementary School, H.D. Woodson High School, and Ron Brown High School in Ward 7. 
  • We are operating 9 mobile feeding locations serving to-go breakfasts and lunches through our partnerships with local nonprofits, faith communities, and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).
  • We are increasing meal deliveries to local shelters and nonprofit agencies, including an additional 1,000 meals per day now that shelters are remaining open during daytime hours.
  • We are distributing fresh produce grocery bags at each of our meal sites, at four additional partner DC Public Schools, and to our Culinary Job Training program students and alumni who have been impacted by this crisis. 
  • We are continuing to deliver fresh produce and healthy snacks to corner stores through our Healthy Corners program and are announcing a price cut of up to 50% on our already discounted fresh, whole fruits and vegetables.
  • We are supporting the Ward 7 COVID-19 Response Team, a grassroots mutual aid effort, by providing 200 daily meals to older adults facing food insecurity.
  • We are partnering with Monumental Sports & Entertainment who have sponsored our meals for their “Feeding the Frontlines” effort to deliver healthy meals to first responders and health care workers at DC area hospitals.

How are your volunteers assisting you at this time?
Unfortunately, out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of our staff, volunteers, and those we serve, we have had to temporarily suspend our traditional volunteer operation in the kitchen. We are focusing on our core value of creating opportunities for meaningful employment and are grateful that we’ve been able to maintain jobs for any DC Central Kitchen staff member who is willing and able to work.

Anything else your organization would like to share?

How you can help:

  • Donate. As always, a financial donation to DC Central Kitchen is the single best way to help us keep our operations running today and in the coming days.  Make a donation today.
  • Elevate. Help spread the word about how DCCK and other local organizations are responding to this crisis, including the time and location of feeding sites and specific needs for resources and supplies.
  • Support the restaurant industry. Our restaurant partnerships are integral to our work. Get ideas for how you can support the restaurant community.

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