Using Cooking to Fight Poverty
One in three children in Washington, D.C.’s Wards 7 and 8, east of the Anacostia River, live in households that are food insecure, where their families don’t know if they’ll have enough to eat every month, said Mike Curtin Jr., CEO of D.C. Central Kitchen. That’s one of the many reasons the nonprofit is working to fight poverty in the nation’s capital.
"We are a social enterprise that uses food as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities,” he said. D.C. Central Kitchen takes food that would otherwise go to waste and donates it to area homeless shelters and nonprofits; provides food for 15 schools in Washington, D.C.; delivers healthy food and snacks to corner stores in D.C.’s low-income areas; empowers high school and college students to fight food waste and hunger; and prepares unemployed adults for culinary careers.
“We really focus on the root causes of hunger and poverty, specifically through our Culinary Job Training program,” Curtin said. “We work with people who have significant barriers to employment, such as incarceration, addiction, homelessness, and trauma to help them get jobs in the hospitality business.”
Since 2000, Wells Fargo has supported D.C. Central Kitchen with $288,500 in grants toward its programs. Team members also volunteer with the nonprofit at least once a year. “The financial support is phenomenal, but we also think it’s important when investors bring their teams in so they can see why they’re locally involved,” Curtin said.