DC Central Kitchen

“Instead of a quick fix, solve the root of the problem through long term problem solving”

By Talia Wilson

Background Information
DC Central Kitchen (DCCK) is a community kitchen that was founded by Robert Egger, a volunteer, in 1989. DCCK dishes out 5,000 meals daily that are loaded into their fleet of trucks and distributed at little or no cost to 100 nearby homeless shelters, transitional homes, and nonprofit organizations, saving them money and nourishing their clients. They offer a culinary job training program for unemployed men and women who want to replace homelessness, addiction, and incarceration with new careers and changed lives. Through the job training, healthy food distribution, and local farm partnerships, DC Central Kitchen offers path-breaking solutions to poverty, hunger, and poor health. They have a strong mission, which is to use food as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities.

Our Experience
During our visit to DC Central Kitchen we took a tour, learned about what DCCK does and how it accomplishes its goals. DC Central Kitchen isn’t just a soup kitchen; they don’t just give out food to those who need it. It’s a community kitchen that works toward solving the problem of hunger and homelessness, not temporarily providing help.

The Big Ideas
“Combating Hunger, Creating Opportunity”: This quote is something that DCCK works toward and does everyday. DCCK fights hunger, poor health and poverty because they know the importance of having a long term solution, and they do this by recycling food that would otherwise be wasted. This idea of recycling food and turning it into meals was created by Robert Egger. He was out one day with his wife feeding the homeless when he realized how much food was being wasted and how the homeless were only getting temporary help. This experience shook him enough to found DC Central Kitchen and now they’ve become very successful in what they do. They’re a social entrepreneurship program that has a catering company, Fresh Start Catering, and a Healthy Corners program that brings in the funding for the programs that they offer and pays their employees.

My visit to DC Central Kitchen showed me that food can be more than something you eat. Food can be used as a key to a better and brighter future. From this experience I’ve learned that food does way more than just nourish, it provides hope and opportunity to those who need it. DCCK taught me that getting to the root of the problem from the start, instead of working around it, is the best way to solve the problem effectively and efficiently.