We are honored to recognize DC Central Kitchen (DCCK) as our Good Food Value Chain Hero for 2019, for providing high quality meals to Washington DC Public Schools that align strongly with Good Food Purchasing Program values while providing job training and job placement for adults with barriers to employment such as histories of homelessness, incarceration, substance abuse, and trauma.
As one program staff from DCCK shared, “DC Central Kitchen has for years made buying local a priority for our school meals. We have partnered with over 40 local farms in the mid-Atlantic region to source fresh produce and protein items.” This was clearly demonstrated in our initial [baseline assessment] findings, which found that over 30% of food purchased on behalf of DC Public Schools was locally sourced from family-owned farms and food businesses within 250 miles. Even more impressive is the amount that comes from small and mid-sized farms: nearly 15%. Few institutions source so much from small and mid-sized farms, let alone in their first year of the Good Food Purchasing Program.
DCCK recognized that their growers and distributors make their work possible by ensuring that products are consistently available and at price points that work on a school food budget:
“DC Central Kitchen is proud to work with many local farmers and food hubs in the local region. One great partner of our is Kilmer’s Orchard in Inwood, WV. For years they have been providing DCCK with all of our apples, pears, and peaches for the school year. They are a family owned farm that has really puts school food at the focus of their work and has worked wonderfully with us over the years to ensure we get great quality fruit at a consistent and fair price. Another Farm is Mock’s Greenhouse, also in West Virginia. They supply DCCK with our salad greens using pesticide free hydroponic methods. We are excited to work with a farm that focused on growing lettuce sustainably and they allow us to source local lettuce year round!
Finally, we are so proud to work with both Local Food Hub/4P foods and Common Market. Each have connected us to a wide array of new farmers through their networks and have made the process of buying local as an institution a much easier and convenient process.”
DCCK is stepping up to the task of helping DC Public Schools meet its Good Food Purchasing Program commitment and shared that they are excited to explore opportunities to improve the sustainability of their sourcing along all five values. How has that looked for them so far? DC Central Kitchen has been leading efforts in researching products and vendors that will help the school district meet its goals in all value categories, especially around sustainability and animal welfare. They commented, “We have already found a new fish item that meets the requirements for seafood in the environmental category. We will continue to focus on our procurement with local farms and seek to expand our offerings by partnering with more food hubs in the mid-Atlantic region. We have also been a dedicated member of the Good Food Purchasing Program coalition, offering direction and vision for where the program can be in the future.”
At the heart of these efforts is a social justice mission that aligns strongly with the Good Food Purchasing Program vision. As one of their program staff shared, “I am inspired by the values DC Central Kitchen has always held in its mission of being a job creator for men and women facing barriers to employment and our commitment to provide living wages and great benefits to all our employees. We value the men and women who work for us and are happy to see GFPP support the values we hold ourselves to.”
We are inspired by DCCK’s passion and great work they continue to do to meet the values of the Program. We are honored to recognize DC Central Kitchen as a Good Food Hero in 2019!