Today, ten of national NAHRO’s staff members gave back to the DC community by volunteering at D.C. Central Kitchen, a local nonprofit located near the Capitol known for reducing hunger with recycled food, training unemployed adults for culinary careers, serving healthy school meals, and rebuilding urban food systems through social enterprise. From 9 a.m.-12 p.m., our staff worked alongside D.C. Central Kitchen staff, volunteers and culinary school students preparing enough food for more than 4,000 of tomorrow’s meals for city’s homeless and low-income populations.
“This was my first time volunteering at the D.C. Central Kitchen,” said Tamarha Walker, regional service officer for the NAHRO Middle Atlantic Regional Council (MARC). “I came away with not only improved culinary skills, but with also a renewed reality check that there are still thousands of families and single persons without access to healthy food options.”
While a main focus of D.C. Central Kitchen is to feed hungry and at-risk neighbors daily, they are also committed to eliminating food waste among local restaurants, universities and corporate partners; providing fresh produce options in food deserts throughout the metro region; and training hardworking, low-income persons to become self-sufficient through culinary art. In 2013 alone, D.C. Central Kitchen estimates that they recovered 737,564 pounds of food for their meals and saved $155,573 in food costs by securing donated produce. Through its Healthy Corners program, D.C. Central Kitchen sold over 7,500 healthy snacks, including fresh produce, per month to corner stores serving lower-income residents with limited access to grocery stores. Since 2008, 339 graduates of D.C. Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training program have achieved a job placement rate of 90 percent and a job retention rate of 85 percent.
Each fall, in preparation for Housing America Month, we ask our members to consider hosting an event showcasing the positive impacts of affordable housing in their communities. Historically, we have participated in a local Habitat for Humanity build, but this year, we wanted to stress the importance of cross-industry collaboration and the positive impacts which can occur when addressing the needs of the whole person.
“Barriers to food accessibility is a real issue which many of our members’ clients and residents face every day,” said John Bohm, director of Congressional Relations, Public Affairs and Field Operations for NAHRO. “Partnering with other nonprofits and for profits to address issues like access to healthy food options and transportation is critical to addressing the root causes of poverty and helping a person to reach self-sufficiency.”