Since our founding in 1989, DC Central Kitchen has successfully combated hunger and created opportunity in Washington, DC. But don’t mistake us for a soup kitchen. By enrolling out-of-work adults in a Culinary Job Training program that teaches them real skills while preparing 5,000 meals for DC’s hungry and homeless residents each day, we shorten this city’s line of hungry people by the way that we feed it.
Our meals go out with a message: in our main kitchen, we empower unemployed men and women who want to replace homelessness, addiction, and incarceration with new careers and changed lives. We offer our students rigorous training in kitchen skills, intensive self-empowerment coaching, two-week-long professional internships, and effective job placement assistance. Despite these tough economic times, our program and its graduates are thriving. Since the recession struck in 2008, we have produced 370 graduates who have attained a 90% job placement rate. Many find work at restaurants, hotels, and other nonprofits. And nearly 70 of our graduates are now employed by DC Central Kitchen, where they earn living wages, support innovative social enterprises that bring healthy food to DC residents, and raise $5 million for the Kitchen's programs annually.
Is all this effort to help ex-cons, recovering addicts and formerly homeless adults really worth it? Even if we’ve never saved a single soul, the Culinary Job Training program makes sense simply by looking at how much money it saves our community.
Nationwide, two-thirds of ex-offenders return to prison; our graduates' recidivism rate is less than 2%. If the ex-offenders we graduate each year ended up back in jail at the normal rate, they would cost taxpayers nearly $2 million dollars annually. With a program budget of approximately $600,000, CJT places these individuals in quality jobs, through which they contribute more than $200,000 in new payroll taxes to DC per year. Add in the welfare, food stamp, and halfway house expenses we save, and all told, every dollar spent on our training program returns $3.50 to our community every year.
Invest in us today. Together, we can change lives, create jobs, and get America working again.