DC Central Kitchen Presents Social Impact Consulting Project to First-Year Students
DC Central Kitchen chief development officer Alex Moore (G’09) recently spoke with Georgetown McDonough first year undergraduate students about the nonprofit’s commitment to address hunger in the Washington, D.C., area, as well as the opportunities available for students to work with the organization as part of their First Year Seminar (FYS) Social Impact Consulting Project (SICP).
The annual course has been an integral component of the first year curriculum and introduction to the undergraduate experience at McDonough since 2010. Students choose among seminar courses on unique business topics ranging from patterns of global commerce to ethics in business and the intersection of global leadership and public policy as part of the program.
Regardless of which seminar course they choose, all FYS students work in teams to develop strategic solutions that address the business challenges of a local nonprofit, which is DC Central Kitchen this year. Through the guidance of faculty and peers, students learn about the given organization’s operational, cultural, financial, ethical, and strategic approaches.
The consulting project is led by Robert Bies, professor of management at Georgetown McDonough. Bies explained the importance of the SICP for the students, and the organization, as they partner together to create a better tomorrow for people who are experiencing food insecurity in the city.
“DC Central Kitchen truly does social impact work, liberating people from hunger and poverty through job training and job creation,” said Bies. “And, in providing recommendations to DC Central Kitchen, our first year students will be collaborators in that social impact work, which aligns with our Jesuit values.”
Throughout the program, students gain the confidence to handle open-ended, cross-functional problems and solutions better, and gain a deeper understanding of project management.
At the end of the SICP, students present their proposals to the organization’s executives and demonstrate the critical thinking and problem-solving skills they gained while working on the project. This year, students will work with DC Central Kitchen on two of their most pressing business challenges as the organization moves to its new location. Moore said the SICP comes at a critical time for DC Central Kitchen.
“As we transition to our long-awaited, 36,000 square-foot headquarters later this year, DC Central Kitchen has a chance to dramatically expand access to our acclaimed Culinary Job Training program and welcome a record number of community volunteers as we bring healthy food to every corner of our city,” said Moore.
When Moore spoke with the first year students, he explained how DC Central Kitchen sought to revolutionize the way food charities operate by tackling one of the root causes of hunger – unemployment – by creating a culinary job training program with full scholarships for attendees.
Moore also asked first year students to help determine how the organization could optimize its culinary job training recruitment strategy, network, and messaging to help boost the organization’s annual enrollment of 100 trainees to 250 trainees. Another question posed to students was how DC Central Kitchen could continue to bolster annual volunteer recruitment numbers to 20,000 or more by 2025.
“First year McDonough students are helping us seize these opportunities for increased scale while adapting to a changed programmatic landscape,” said Moore. “Near-term, we hope the project helps students develop a deeper understanding of our city’s incredible assets as well as the structural disparities at the root of hunger and food insecurity in D.C. In the long-run, DC Central Kitchen hopes this experience shows these emerging leaders how they can take action by advancing solutions that actually liberate people from poverty rather than alleviating symptoms or comforting the comfortable.”
A group of first year McDonough students will visit DC Central Kitchen’s new headquarters in October. All teams will participate in a competition to determine the four best teams that will present to DC Central Kitchen executives at the end of the semester.