/ By Debra Rainey /
Imagine a 20,000 square-foot processing kitchen where donated fruits and vegetables are chopped, diced, pureed, and juiced before being composted. That’s L.A. Kitchen. Now imagine that huge operation in an even larger 60,000 square foot incubator space with more than 50 other production kitchens, many of which are women- and minority-owned. That’s L.A. Prep.
Located in L.A.’s Lincoln Heights neighborhood, you’ll see the inner workings of both innovative food operations, and how they’re using the power of food to change lives, on LA Inside & Out’s L.A. Kitchen immersion tour.
L.A. Kitchen is the brainchild of Robert Egger, a nonprofit leader, author, speaker, and activist who expanded the concept he began at the renowned DC Central Kitchen in Washington, DC. L.A. Kitchen is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year nonprofit social enterprise that recovers thousands of pounds of California-sourced fruits and vegetables, “feeding” a job training program for people in transition – including young people aging out of foster care, and older people coming out of prison.
This teaching kitchen takes an intergenerational approach, with workers who are returning to society, students, and volunteers working side-by-side to produce thousands of healthy meals for the larger LA community, with an emphasis on programs that serve seniors.
“You’ll see a vibrant, dynamic, innovative nonprofit in action,” Egger says about the operation, which prepares unemployed and underemployed youth and older adults for a career in the culinary arts. Among L.A. Kitchen’s other efforts, he says “You’ll also hear about our ‘Seed to Sky’ program, where we purchase vegetables and herbs from local community-led gardens that we put into grab-and-go sandwiches and salads sold at LAX, generating income that can be reinvested back into our neighborhoods.”
Changemakers on the L.A. Kitchen tour also will get hands-on — helping to prepare fresh fruits and vegetables that will be turned into healthy meals and snacks for nonprofit partners throughout L.A. You’ll also join L.A. Kitchen staff and trainees for their daily “family” lunch.
L.A. Kitchen is the anchor tenant for L.A. Prep, the second leg of this LA Inside & Out tour. Known as the largest kitchen incubator space in America, this state-of-the-art production center offers a turnkey operation option where artisanal food producers can lease affordable, permit-ready kitchen space, avoiding the burden of high facility costs and complex regulations.
Changemakers looking for innovative examples of community renewal will find that L.A. Prep and its anchor tenant, L.A. Kitchen, are cooking up new opportunities for both food makers and community residents seeking fresh starts in positive directions.
LA Inside & Out tours are half-day immersion experiences where you’ll actively participate in a journey into dynamic LA neighborhoods where real changework is happening, and be inspired by what you learn to create real change in your community, too.
To sign up for this LA Inside & Out tour, check the box beside L.A. Kitchen when you register for Upswell.
Debra Rainey is manager of communications at Independent Sector.