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Head Start Central Kitchen Initiative

Resources Required

Staff:  The Central Kitchen employs seven full-time staff year-round (12 months)

  • 1 Food service director/chef
  • 1 Nutrition assistant
  • 1 Food service worker
  • 4 Line cooks/drivers

Training: To ensure that kitchen operations are not interrupted, staff members are cross-trained to perform different duties; if one person is not able to work, another person, trained to do the job, fills in. The chef trains line cooks to prepare foods that are low in fat, sugar, and salt.

Materials: Kitchen equipment costs were approximately $286,721; this amount includes the purchase of a fire-suppression system at $32,000. Some commercial equipment was purchased at reduced costs and/or was donated from restaurants going out of business or from other businesses selling used equipment.

Funding: The majority of the operating budget (86%) is from CACFP reimbursement, and food costs are budgeted at 50% of the CACFP reimbursement, preserving a revenue-neutral program. When serving 2,400 meals daily, the estimated annual operating budget for the full program was $773,602. CACFP reimbursement made up $667,762 of the operating budget. The remainder of the operating budget, $105,840, was funded by private companies, in-kind donations, and income-generating activities (e.g., catering special events, fundraising). The identified private funding and donations made to the kitchen were used to create the job training program known as Sauté. 

Central Kitchen estimates the average cost of a lunch is $1.45 to $1.50, including milk.

Space needs: The Central Kitchen is divided into three functional areas: 1) office space and employee meeting area; 2) dry food storage, food receiving, and food loading area; and 3) food production area.