This week we’re going to look at five cause-oriented organizations that are worth paying attention to: one each weekday. Notice I didn’t say “non-profits”; whether an organization makes money or not is beside the point here. In each post, I won’t talk about each and every program the organization runs; instead, I’ll focus on the one or two things worth emulating. Here we go…
First up is DC Central Kitchen (DCCK), a Washington, D.C-based non-profit that’s a combination soup kitchen/job training program/catering service/nutrition advisor. In their own words,
Our mission is to use food as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities. Our programs provide a comprehensive continuum of care to the people we serve. First, we provide breakfast, outreach, and counseling services to chronically homeless people living on the streets.
Next we recycle 3,000 pounds of food each day, converting it into 4,500 meals we distribute to 100 shelters, transitional homes, and rehabilitation clinics throughout the DC area. These partner agencies then refer clients to our Culinary Job Training program, where they receive the tools to start new careers.
We complete the empowerment process by employing our graduates in our full-service catering company or by placing them in full-time jobs at restaurants and hotels throughout the region. Today, we are expanding our operations, partnering with local farmers to procure fresh produce and begin new revenue-generating social enterprises.
The core of DCCK’s work is the food recycling and preparation program. But the fact that they collect and redistribute unneeded food is not unique. Instead, what stands out about DCCK is their attitude of abundance. Watch the video at the end of this post, and you’ll see the kitchen overflowing with food, smiles on the faces of the staff, and great pride in the voices of those who’ve gone through their program. It would be great if every business and non-profit adopted this outlook, but finding an organizational culture that’s adopted this mentality is a rare thing!
Where has this attitude taken them? Its food program doesn’t just feed the hungry, it’s also used as a platform for providing clients with culinary training and job searching. These newly trained kitchen staff were then use to create and operate a full-service catering company that focuses on “local, seasonable, and sustainable foods”. Finally, DCCK went a step further by extending its mission to college campuses in 26 communities. Pretty impressive for an organization that’s just a few years old and is staffed by only 124 people.
Who do you think achieves more, an organizations that believes there’s a dearth of resources available, or one that looks at the world as full of opportunity and possibility? If DCCK is any indicator, the answer should be obvious.
Check back tomorrow and we’ll take a look at organization #2 in the series.