As anybody who ever heard me speak knows, I came to L.A. to do one thing – compete for, and win contracts with the city’s Department of Aging to provide plant-forward, healthy meals to the elders who built this city, while helping the Department comply with the mandatory L.A. Good Food Purchasing Act. Sadly, they weren’t interested in our model, and the social impact we baked into it, which forced us to develop alternative income streams to pay down our loans, make payroll, and fund the job training, food recovery and volunteer programs. In the end, the two years we spent building a kitchen specific to the task, and trying to forge a partnership with them put us in an economic hole that we weren’t able to get out of, regardless of how hard we tried, or how generous Angelenos were.
But LA, we rocked it! Over 11,000 intergenerational volunteers passed through our doors, anxious to contribute to something bigger than themselves. While here, they worked alongside 200+ individuals enrolled in our culinary job training program, each trying to take a new road towards a brighter future. Over 180 of those past students are working today, collectively earning over $5M in annual salaries, versus being on the streets, in prison, or without hope. Together, we used a million pounds of donated food (primarily CA grown produce) to prepare and deliver over 400,000 healthy meals, and 350,000 pounds of fresh-cut fruits and veggies to partner agencies throughout Los Angeles. And on top of that, we also composted over 90,000 lbs of organic waste.
We LOVED working at L.A. Prep in Lincoln Heights, and we want to thank everyone who visited, or helped us by donating funds, volunteering their time and skills, for interning or working as a senior meal ambassador. We also want to thank the incredible chefs who taught or hired the students, as well as the farmers and businesses that donated food that they didn’t want to waste. Most importantly, we want to thank the philanthropic partners who saw what we were trying to achieve, and who supported our innovative systems with generous grants and loans.
L.A. is the city where the future comes to happen. We just got here a little too early. Our model was sound – and it will prevail. Old ideas cannot contain the coming wave of Baby Boomers, who will demand – and get – better food served in dignity. Together with you, L.A. Kitchen made its mark, and it won’t be hard to follow the trail we left behind.
Wrinkled food, wrinkled people… NO WASTE.
Viva Los Angeles,
Robert Egger, CEO & Founder