Cooking skills break down barriers in D.C.

D.C. Central Kitchen made headlines with this year’s Capital Food Fight, where top local chefs from around Washington, D.C., competed for the best culinary creation while raising funds for the Kitchen, which employs an innovative idea to help people overcome homelessness.

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 06: Celebrity Chef Jose Andres, DC Central Kitchen’s Chief Executive Officer Michael Curtin and Workforce Development Program Associate Manouchka Bolden, and Stand Together Foundation Representative Shaun Alexander pose at DC Central Kitchen’s Capital Food Fight 2019 on November 06 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for DC Central Kitchen)

This culinary-based nonprofit was born three decades ago with a new approach to combating hunger and homelessness. In its early days, the organization collected extra food from local restaurants, turning that “waste” into hearty meals for those in need and training unemployed District residents in the culinary arts. The organization now provides not only much needed meals but empowers individuals to establish a path out of poverty through job training and resources.

D.C. Central Kitchen participated this past year in the Stand Together Foundation’s Catalyst Program, which provides business training and management tools to help non-profits scale their efforts. The Foundation also sponsored this year’s Capital Food Fight fundraiser to amplify how people are transforming their lives through the program. One of those was Manouchka Bolden, who enrolled in D.C. Central Kitchen last year to jump-start a career and set an example for her six children. After graduating from the Culinary Job Training program, Manouchka now works with D.C. Central Kitchen to assist and inspire new graduates.

This year, Manouchka received the D.C. Central Kitchen North Star Award, presented by Stand Together partner and NFL legend Shaun Alexander, for all her hard work and success. 

D.C. Central Kitchen is helping break the cycle of poverty and homelessness in new ways, and it’s paying off. And in Manouchka’s case, she’s helping others do the same. “I want to be an advocate for women, especially those who have been abused or broken,” she says. “I want to be a voice.”

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