D.C. Central Kitchen (DCCK), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., is providing low-income communities healthy foods by partnering with local corner stores.

Founded in 1989 by Robert Egger, D.C. Central Kitchen’s primary mission is to feed the homeless and poor.

DCCK provides below market price fresh produce to under served communities.  (Courtesy Photo)

DCCK provides below market price fresh produce to under served communities. (Courtesy Photo)

The organization has provided citizens in homeless shelters, halfway houses and non-profit organizations with food donated from local business that would otherwise end up going to waste. Not only does the organization cook the food into healthy meals, it also offers a 14-week culinary program.

“We’re in a unique position to be able to work as a colleague with these folks. Not as someone who’s managing their program or supervising their program or funding their program from a direct grant perspective, but a college working together to try to create better solutions, said CEO Mike Curtain during an interview with m|Oppenheim TV, a web based broadcaster.

Founder Egger has moved on to start L.A Kitchen, which focuses on providing senior citizens with healthy meals.

After 26 years in business, DCCK has approximately 150 employees and volunteers preparing roughly 5,000 meals a day. 12,000 to 13,000 meals a day are provided as a whole when including their partnerships groups such as the District of Columbia Public Schools system.

Several years ago DCCK began partnering with local corner stores to provide them with produce at wholesale prices, which allows the stores to sell the foods to consumers at below market prices. The program is called Healthy Corners.

“We wanted to get creative and say, ‘Well what can we do that will allow people to purchase healthy food that is affordable and that is right there in their communities? Rather than having to travel long distances to grocery stores,’” said Chief Development Officer, Alexander Moore, in an interview with the AFRO.

“What we found was that they didn’t have spare refrigeration equipments, they didn’t have spare shelving…it was risky to put fresh produce on the shelves,” Moore said.

Starting in 2011, DCCK has worked with corner stores in about 30 locations in Wards 5, 7 and 8. Today, they are at 71 corner stores and are in Wards 1, 4 and 6, according to Moore.

DCCK is also studying opening pop-up shops at corner stores close to schools catering to elementary and middle-school students.

“Having that access to healthy foods at school and then in the corner stores is changing their attitudes towards healthy eating as a whole,” said Moore. “We’re really passionate about healthy eating and empowering people to make healthy choices.”

DCCK will host its annual fundraiser, Capital Food Fight, on Nov. 10. The event will see a live cook off between four well-known chefs and food from 75 area restaurants.

For more information go to dccentralkitchen.org.