Various fruits and vegetables on a black background
Photo courtesy of Marco Verch // Flickr

When discussing nutrition, we need to emphasize quality over quantity. When D.C. Central Kitchen, a non-profit organization that trains unemployed people in cooking skills, was serving the city’s food bank, we were eating whatever the food bank gave us. I fought long and hard with different agencies to convince D.C. Central Kitchen employees that the quality of the food had to be checked to prevent diseases.I felt the standards of nutrition for people experiencing homeless were being ignored.  

 In 2016, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration listened and implemented a quality control system for food served in shelters. We deserve nutritious, healthy food. We shouldn’t be forced to deal with “what is there.” 

 The people who frequent food banks are in transition. Some are in recovery. I feel that a restaurant such as Henry’s Soul Food would make a better caterer and purveyor than a training facility such as D.C. Central Kitchen. Nevertheless, I hope Henry’s and Central Kitchen will work together to help those in our community facing housing instability.  

 Unfortunately, even after these improvements, we still are not getting full-course meals. The quality is higher, but the city needs to do more. Full-course meals served in shelters would help raise the self-esteem of people in poverty, help them obtain housing and promote a healthier, safer way of life. 


Reginald Black serves as a consumer representative on the D.C. Interagency Council on Homelessness.