Charity Spotlight: Soul Food

by Editorial

The DC Central Kitchen is hitting the road with a new, mobile food drive effort.
By Kate Faherty

Mike Isabella of Top Chef Fame and Chef/Owner of Graffiato joins the effort to make the menu at the DC Central Kitchen a healthier one. Photo by Daniel Swartz/

Canned food drives are so 2010. The DC Central Kitchen is holding its first ever mobile, fresh food drive, and the donation bus is making its way around the city between now and September 30 called Stuff the Bus. In an effort to make the kitchen healthier and heartier, the bus is collecting donations and also allowing people to virtually donate fresh foods from the virtual market on the bus. Stuff the Bus is a new innovative initiative in charitable food donations that was made a reality by Venga, a mobile app that keeps DC up-to-date on dining and nightlife in the DC area.

The bus itself was once a 1975 Ford School bus listed on Craigslist for $1,000. The bus is now the mobile home the food drive that’s stopping all over DC to collect donations. A small donation on the truck can supply the DC Central Kitchen with fresh foods and produce, which the DC Central Kitchen is trying to incorporate more into its meals.

Cokie Roberts on Venga's Stuff The Bus. Photo: Daniel Swartz/

The virtual market is open alongside the bus, accepting monetary donations for the DC Central Kitchen to make their own fresh purchases. With a $10 donation, the DC Central Kitchen can buy 1 free-range roaster chicken, or $25 can supply the kitchen with one case of Shenandoah Valley Tomatoes. With $50 donated through the Stuff the Bus, the DC Central Kitchen can purchase and serve 80 servings of pasture raised, hormone free, local Ground Beef. The most coveted items being collected include, but are not limited to, canned tomatoes, canned beans, boxed pasta, granola bars, applesauce and fruit cups.

“DC Central Kitchen uses over 3,000 lbs of fresh food to prepare almost 5,000 meals every day,” said DC Central Kitchen CEO Mike Curtin. “These numbers would not be possible without the support of community partners, like Venga and the participating restaurants.”

The truck began its journey around DC on September 17 at the H Street Festival and will continue to visit local restaurants and farmers markets to collect donations. The truck’s last day in circulation is September 30, when it will be parked at Truckeroo, DC’s monthly food truck festival near the Navy Yard. Many of the city’s top chefs and famous foodies have partnered with Venga and the DC Central Kitchen to allow the Stuff the Bus to visit some of DC’s most-loved restaurants and thus increase support of the mobile food drive.

Along for the ride are a few supportive celebrities, including Top Chef contestants Mike Isabella and Spike Mendelsohn, Ryan Zimmerman of Washington Nationals fame, Ed Henry of FOX News Channel, former Redskins player and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Darrell Green, Journalist Cokie Roberts and ABC’s Jonathan Karl.

Venga and the DC Central Kitchen hope to fill the bus with 5,000 pounds of healthy, fresh food, and the bus is already filling up because of the great response from DC residents. Additionally, Venga has partnered with to donate a meal for every download of the Venga free  mobile app during the span of the Stuff the Bus food drive. So fuel your soul and fuel the DC Central Kitchen by visiting the bus or visiting the donation page online. The Stuff the Bus schedule, more information on the the mobile food drive and the bus’s status on fulfilling its goal are all available here.

Ryan Zimmerman. Photo by Daniel Swartz/

Jonathan Karl. Photo by Daniel Swartz/

Darrell Green. Photo by Daniel Swartz/

Related Articles