Mike Curtin calls himself Washington, D.C.’s food fighter. It's a title he earns every day by feeding the city's needy through his organization, DC Central Kitchen, a nonprofit located just a few blocks north of the U.S. Capitol. Curtin's staff takes leftovers found at local restaurants, wholesalers, and farms and converts those items into more than 5,000 meals a day.
Curtin works with a unique class of chefs and line cooks at DC Central Kitchen to prepare these meals daily. Most of his staff comes from DC Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training Program. These are students who come to the kitchen having never used a spatula or whisk before.
“[My students] are the afflicted, homeless, unemployed, or formerly incarcerated,” Curtin says. “They have had trouble getting a job, but we are hiring.”
Curtin offers his students job skills that can lead to a steady paycheck and a second chance on life -- less than 2 percent of his students return to prison after graduation. According to Curtin, the power of food can help unite communities and people from all walks of life.