DC Central Kitchen photo of two staff with bright yellow bananas in bin at forefront of photo, quarter 3 2017 poverty and health beneficiary

Fresh approaches to bringing fresh food to school: DC Central Kitchen wraps up another great year


June marked the end of another school year at DC Public Schools, DC Central Kitchen’s seventh year preparing healthy, scratch-cooked, and locally-sourced food for DC Public Schools.

As the school year ends, we’re proud to report on the incredible work of our dedicated team of chefs, dieticians, and cooks who together provide the healthy, carefully prepared food and hands-on nutrition education our city’s children need to thrive in school and in life.

Our program has its roots in local farms. We worked directly with more than 35 area farmers and growers to ensure that local ingredients made up more than 50% of each lunch tray we served. Our meals were prepared and served with dignity by our devoted culinary team, more than 30 of whom are graduates of our acclaimed Culinary Job Training program, and all of whom earned living wages and full benefits as DC Central Kitchen employees.

Our new classroom-based, kid-friendly nutrition education and cooking initiative, Cafeteria Chefs, was widely successful.  This year, we expanded the curriculum of our mobile urban garden, the Truck Farm, to include follow-up visits with students who previously participated in a Cafeteria Chefs lesson. Truck Farm lessons give kids a hands-on understanding of how fruits and vegetables grow, and include food tastings of five or six items growing in the Truck Farm including fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Then, students demonstrate their chef skills by preparing a salad using ingredients from the Truck Farm.

All of these activities were supplemented with additional District-wide nutrition education and student engagement events, such as Strawberries & Salad Greens Day, held each June where students learn about the nutritional benefits of local greens and strawberries, as well as Food Day in October. International Food Days, which are held throughout the school year in partnership with embassies located in DC, introduce students to new foods alongside the cultures and customs of featured countries.

Whether it’s a conversation about local vegetables grown by one of our farm-to-school partners for our students, an International Food Day exploring South African cuisine, a Fresh Feature Friday taste test to expose students to new vegetables and preparation methods, or a hands-on Cafeteria Chefs lesson where children learn how to prepare meals themselves, our Healthy School Food team redefined what ‘school food’ can mean to our city’s children, schools, environment, and economy.

Provided by our Q1 2017 beneficiary DC Central Kitchen. DC Central Kitchen received a $9,050 grant from Foundation Beyond Belief in 2017 and a $9,920 grant in 2015.