Wealth derived from the community should be reinvested locally. Investments should be made in both the present and the future. All people have potential, and every person has a role in strengthening the community. You are a vital member of the L.A. Kitchen community and your support will change lives today and into the future!
Play a transformative role in this exciting new program that proactively addresses the growing senior population, and the need to provide them with healthy, nutritional meals. Help build community and create an empowered space to discuss wellness, nutrition, and healthy aging at various senior center locations supported by L.A Kitchen’s social enterprise program, Strong Food.
Through intergenerational dialogue, Ambassadors engage seniors in meal focused conversations about food and nutrition while collecting valuable feedback about L.A. Kitchen meals. A 3-hour training session is required.
Dolores is a college student with an interest in health and a passion for wholesome nutrition, food sustainability, and serving the elderly. As a vegetarian, she believes that a nutritious diet is the secret to a healthy lifestyle and plans to heal people through the power of food. Dolores says it’s always a good Ambassador’s day when the seniors relay their stories about feeling healthy as a direct result of L.A. Kitchen’s meals. Because she’s very close to her grandmother, Dolores enjoys listening to the seniors when they discover new grains, vegetables and inventive ways to prepare old ingredients. One of the most special memories she shares with her grandmother is learning secret recipes in the home kitchen. Dolores’ favorite dish is Pad Kee Mao—she says she could eat everyday.
Elisa is culinary-trained professional and says that some of her favorite, special memories come from her days spent in culinary school. As a cancer survivor, Elisa identifies with the Ambassadors program because she knows the importance of eating properly in order to remain healthy. She says that discussing nutrition and sharing knowledge about smart eating provides a great opportunity to exchange stories with the seniors in order to learn about their diverse cultural backgrounds. Elisa’s Italian heritage comes into play in her own life as she believes that good Italian food helped her raise a happy family. She says that many important conversations were inspired during meals because “good food always makes life more festive.”
Deborah recently transitioned from a 20-year career in the corporate world and was seeking the next chapter of her life. She’s been a volunteer for several years in different capacities and relates to those who have encountered life altering changes, because she has endured significant changes in her life as well. Deborah has a zest for life and chose the Ambassadors Program because she loves lively communication and can quickly gain the trust of the senior diners and get to know them as individuals. By establishing their trust and developed rapport, Deborah discovers their needs and challenges while offering a sincere, lending ear. Sharing these conversations over a meal fosters effective communication across cultural, economic and generational lines.
Mayuko joined L.A. Kitchen because of a shared philosophy that involves connecting with local seniors, while also helping to provide healthy food to the community and those in need. She became an Ambassador because she enjoys interacting with seniors and is intrigued to learn about their varied cultural backgrounds and interests, as well as their relationships with food and nutrition. By being part of today’s food movement, Mayuko wants to do her part to effectively teach seniors about organic and healthy food and how it can benefit them. Mayuko says her interest in food and the senior population was inspired by summers spent in Tokyo with her grandparents. She relays that there was a fun, social aspect to shopping in the markets with her grandmother. She recalls an inviting sense of community where shopping always meant chatting with a vendor or neighbor. It was there she says she learned the value of fresh food, such as fish, fruits and vegetables. To Mayuko, that’s the basic philosophy she brings to the Ambassadors Program—friendly conversations about food.
Born in Sri Lanka, Ranjani grew up eating fresh, healthy foods including salads, fish, chicken, lentils with curry, and lots of fresh herbs and spices. Dinner was always a family affair and served promptly at 6 p.m. Her father stressed the importance of eating home-cooked meals together, meaningful conversations, and sharing the events of the day. One of her favorite Sri Lankan dishes is ‘watalappan’—a decadent cardamom spiced coconut custard dessert. Ranjani champions the same values as her upbringing in her role as an LAK Ambassador. As one of the first volunteers to be trained in the Ambassadors Program, Ranjani has engaged in numerous conversations with senior diners at the St. Barnabas-Echo Park Senior Center, raising awareness about healthy eating while building lasting social connections.
Carla joined the Ambassadors Program in May of 2016 because she cares about food waste in Los Angeles and about seniors. This program gives her the opportunity to visit with seniors and discuss the importance of health and nutrition in a casual and friendly setting. She says that through these discussions she’s been delighted to learn that many of the seniors now welcome new ingredients, such as millet and couscous, into their diets—and that they want lentils to be served more frequently at lunch. Carla’s fondness for food comes from the summers she spent as a child visiting her grandparents in South Carolina. One of her greatest memories is from the summer shrimp boil where her family would sit around her grandmother’s long dining room table, peeling shrimp, while talking and eating well after the sunset. She fondly recalls some of her grandmother’s home cooked specialities: fried green tomatoes, mac ‘n’ cheese, butter beans, and her favorite treat—homemade peach ice cream.
Anne chose to volunteer with L.A. Kitchen because of her dedicated interest in today’s food inequality issues in Los Angeles. She admires LAK’s multi-faceted approach to the city’s food insecurities, such as food recovery, food repurpose, culinary training and outreach to vulnerable populations. Anne says her mom did all the cooking for the family and always prepared their salads and meals with fresh produce. She fondly remembers her mom’s famous homemade sloppy joe and side salad, a simple recipe, yet always a family favorite. Upon moving to L.A., Anne discovered and fell in love with exotic cuisines, such as Indian and Thai food. Vegan Pad Thai is her go-to-recipe because of its freshness and delicious flavor—and that it includes her favorite vegetable—broccoli.
Karen discovered L.A. Kitchen while searching for opportunities with food-oriented organizations that involve life skills, job training, and food/nutrition services. Food has played a significant role in her life—exploring farmers and ethnic markets, cooking for friends and family, and visiting all types of eateries. Her greatest culinary influence was a visit to Italy, where she learned about the healthy and delicious simplicity of cooking fresh vegetables and seafood with olive oil, lemon and herbs—and even more importantly, how conversation and community were vital parts of the dining experience. In her work as a writer/editor, Karen has written extensively about food. She says her most inspiring assignment was an article about Tender Greens' Sustainable Life Program—so when she read about L.A. Kitchen and found common ground that includes job training, empowerment, and local food, it seemed like a good fit. Karen says it's been enlightening and rewarding serving as an Ambassador, engaging with seniors about their cultural backgrounds, families, food history, and how they've learned healthier ways to eat through L.A. Kitchen.