June 1, 2013
Yolanda “Miss Liz” Lizarraga had lost one kidney to cancer, and the remaining one was functioning so poorly that she faced the prospect of spending three days a week undergoing dialysis. She could avoid that long-term fate only by improving her diet.
With a limited budget and poor eyesight, the retired Los Angeles fourth-grade teacher could neither cook for herself nor afford dining out regularly. So she turned to St. Vincent Meals on Wheels.
Lizarraga, 57, credits the daily kidney-friendly vegetarian meals she now gets with keeping her off dialysis.
Sister Alice Marie Quinn, St. Vincent Meals on Wheels’ founder, executive director and dietitian, creates meal plans for Lizarraga and other clients. Although fresh fruits and vegetables are essential to a healthy diet, Quinn said programs like hers can’t afford all the fresh produce they need. She’s looking forward to the opening late this year of the L.A. Kitchen, a nonprofit that plans to collect millions of pounds of California’s fruits and vegetables and provide them for free or at a very low cost to dozens of food programs in Los Angeles such as St. Vincent Meals on Wheels.
Founded by Robert Egger, the L.A. Kitchen is designed to help fight hunger in older adults by supplying them with healthy food. Egger is building on his success in the nation’s capital with DC Central Kitchen. Since 1989, it has turned donated leftover food from restaurants, hotels and other businesses into meals for low-income individuals.
The L.A. Kitchen plans to gather donated or affordable produce and peel, slice, dice, flash freeze or otherwise prepare it for nonprofit agencies to use in making the meals they provide to vulnerable Angelenos.