Monica Emma | DC Central Kitchen

This semester, I have had the incredible opportunity to volunteer with DC Central Kitchen as well as a few other food recovery/ food preparation projects across the city such as Bread for the City and Martha’s Table. Before beginning my volunteer hours, the professor associated with my CSLP class, Professor Graddy-Lovelace of The Political Ecology of Food and Agriculture, recommended a book to me called The Food Fighters that was written about the foundations and development of DCCK. The book outlines the initiatives that started DCCK as well as their food recovery and food preparation methods which have turned out to be the foundations of their current operation. This intersection is the aspect of DCCK that interests me the most. Having a food delivery program as a way to deal with homelessness and poverty in DC is an amazing idea; however, utilizing food scraps and incorporating job training programs to ensure the sustainability of the program is even better!

At my first shift at DCCK, I was prepped to chop vegetables for their daily meals. During this, I was able to interact with DCCK staff and other volunteers, and truly gain an understanding of the importance and community surrounding the DCCK operations. In addition, I stayed after for the lunch that was prepared for the community by the staff members. This meal was not only absolutely delicious, but what it represented was also very inspirational. To reduce waste and give opportunities to underprivileged community members by offering them jobs and hard skills is admirable. Because of their work, DCCK has been a model organization for other similar programs in other cities. For example LA Central Kitchen, where the founder of DCCK is currently working, was started as a result of the success of DCCK.

The work I am doing at DCCK perfectly complements the topics I am learning about in my Food and Agriculture class. Each week of the class is divided into a theme or topic, and each student is assigned a week to present on. My section, “Food Security”, compliments the work I am doing at DCCK because it is the practical side of the research I am using for class.  In addition, I am researching the intersection of food security and food waste for my final project. Using DC Central Kitchen as my main case study, which spawns from the volunteer work and research I have done for CSLP, I am looking at the utilization of food recovery as a response to food insecurity. My work at DCCK is not only inspiring, but it has motivated and perpetuated my drive for food security.

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