L.A. Kitchen: Battling Food Issues on Many Fronts | Link TV
L.A. Kitchen: Battling Food Issues on Many Fronts
There was a lot going on at L.A. Kitchen. Over the course of six years, the Lincoln Heights-based non-profit had developed a multi-pronged approach to address the interconnected issues of hunger, food waste and employment opportunities in the city. They made a lot of progress and generated significant attention for their innovative programs. In October of 2018, though, L.A. Kitchen shut its doors.
L.A. Kitchen brought together young people aging out of the foster care system with older people returning from incarceration for a 15-week job training program. Robert Egger, who founded L.A. Kitchen and has since moved to New Mexico, says that, altogether, more than 140 people graduated from the program and that, combined, they are earning over $3 million a year in salary.
More About Broken Bread
Those working in the kitchen were given a task: "How do you feed more people, better food for less money?" The result was a "plant-forward" menu. These weren't meatless meals, but ones where the produce took center stage. "I was very excited because of L.A.'s proximity to the Central Valley and an inordinate supply of fresh, healthy, flavorful food," says Egger by phone. And so were the people they fed. Egger notes that the rating cards accompanying meals consistently came back with positive remarks.
They worked on reducing food waste, not just with the produce they purchased, but in their own preparation. "We were showing that you could chop, dice, puree, juice, zest, then take the leftovers from that process and make stocks and super fortified broths," says Egger, noting that what remained after all this could be composted.
While L.A. Kitchen meals fed people from all age groups, their target was Los Angeles' elder population. Egger, who had started D.C. Kitchen in the nation's capital back in 1989, says that he wanted to focus on Los Angeles in part because it has a large senior population that is increasing and because the number of seniors facing poverty and hunger is also rising. In addition to feeding seniors, L.A. Kitchen wanted to create jobs for older Angelenos as well. "Even though there's a huge employment market in L.A., if you're over 50, it's very difficult to find work," says Egger.
Where L.A. Kitchen hit a snag was in the for-profit arm of the endeavor, says Egger. L.A. Kitchen had been trying to get a contract with the L.A. City Department of Aging. "We spent two years losing money trying desperately to show the Department of Aging that we were dependable, committed and inspired partners for them, but they had no interest," says Egger. Ultimately, L.A. Kitchen didn't have the funds to continue.
Now, Egger is game to share his insight with others. "If you want to start a kitchen, I'll help," he says. He's also interested in procurement reform in cities, finding an answer to the question, "How do you take away the idea of low bid and replace that with best value?"
Connect with Link TV
Access to clean water for drinking and household use remains a challenge in places as far apart as Mumbai, India and rural communities in West Virginia.
Students in a Jakarta neighborhood are trading plastic waste for Wi-Fi access so they can continue learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Xiye Bastida is committed to helping create a future where climate activism is a space where people feel included and their actions matter.
Naelyn Pike, Chiricahua Apache, is fighting with paperwork and by speaking out to stop Resolution Copper, a foreign-owned mining company, from extracting copper ore from the Apache sacred site in Arizona.
- 1 of 103
- next ›
Roy explores the power of cooking to rehabilitate those on the margins of society and the organizations taking a chance on those who need it most.
Roy meets the individuals bringing healthy and affordable food options into South L.A. communities that lack access to fresh food.
Roy explores future culinary landscapes looking forward to a world affected by climate change.
Roy explores the issues of equality and the emergence of a new culinary landscape since the advent of legalized recreational marijuana.
Roy journeys from L.A. to Orange County to discover how non-profit innovators are tackling the problem of food waste.
- 1 of 2
- next ›