Centralized Kitchen Study

Assessment of a Central Food Processing Facility for Washington, DC

In June 2021, the Office of Planning and the Food Policy Council published a report entitled an Assessment of a Central Food Processing Facility for Washington, DC. Required under the Healthy Students Amendment Act of 2018, this report is a comprehensive assessment of how the District could best use a Central Food Processing Facility (CPF) to improve the nutritional quality of meals served in public institutions (such as schools, senior centers, and correctional facilities), support local food businesses, create career pathways in the food sector, and strengthen the District’s food resiliency in case of future emergencies. The report provides valuable insights into how the District could design and manage such a facility to maximize its benefits to District residents.

Prepared through a collaboration between Cureate and The Food Works Group, this first-of-its-kind report in the United States the report provides 45 best practices and 57 recommendations for the creation of a CPF in the District. Interviews with over 60 local and national food system experts, in depth case studies into similar models in other jurisdictions, and extensive research on the District’s food landscape support the reports findings. The analysis is broken into three key sections: 

  • Impact: The report outlines how a well-designed and managed CPF could provide positive impacts to the District’s food system; including addressing health equity, supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs, generating revenue, and providing high quality jobs. 
  • Operations: The report evaluates and synthesizes information collected from similar facilities in jurisdictions across the country on best practices for CPF management, core functionality, equipment, contracts, labor, and food safety to maximize synergy and efficiency. 
  • Physical Facility: The report considers how a CPF could be best designed to support schools and other public institutions food services while simultaneously increasing the District’s capacity to provide spaces for commercial kitchens, storage, and job training to local food businesses. 

Lessons learned from the unprecedented food access and food supply challenges experienced by District residents over the COVID-19 public health emergency are also included. As the District moves towards building an equitable recovery, this report provides valuable insights on how a CPF could support the District’s efforts to provide nutritious meals for residents in the care of District institutions, as well as commercial kitchen, storage, job training, and community spaces for local food businesses and entrepreneurs.

Virtual Panel

The DC Office of Planning (OP) and Food Policy Council hosted a Virtual Launch for the Assessment of a Central Food Processing Facility for Washington, DC on Wednesday, August 11 from 2 pm to 3 pm. The Virtual Launch consisted of two panels. The first was moderated by Andrew Trueblood, Director of the DC Office of Planning, with co-authors of the report Kim Bryden, Founder and CEO of Cureate, and Wendy Stuart, Co-Founder and Principal of the Food Works Group, serving as panelists. They discussed the challenges and opportunities within the District’s food system and the role of a Central Processing Facility (CPF) can play in ensuring a more accessible, vibrant, and equitable food sector for residents and businesses alike. The second panel was moderated by Ona Balkus, Food Policy Director, with Dalila Boclin, Food Policy Council Member, and Mark Scott, Critical Infrastructure Specialist at the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, serving as panelists. They discussed the local/regional food system infrastructure and importance of aggregation and food storage as a critical pathway to support food businesses and creating food resiliency for the District.