the power of food and potential of people: a visit from robert egger

the power of food and potential of people: a visit from robert egger

Earlier this month Robert Egger—Founder and President of L.A. Kitchen—dropped by our offices in Seattle for a visit. Over a tequila and tonic (his signature drink, for anyone who might be hosting him soon), he talked to our team about a lot of things—from economic sexism and the expanding constructs of what it means to be a refugee, to nutritional imperialism and aging. What struck me most is the number of issues Robert and his organization are addressing through their work, including “lovingly disrupting senior meals.”

Food waste, unemployment, poverty, senior nutrition—these are all treated as “solvable issues” within the L.A. Kitchen ecosystem. Considering the number of organizations focused on addressing any of these single issues, it’s especially impressive to see how L.A. Kitchen is addressing them all as part of one interconnected system.

They reclaim nutritious, local food that would otherwise be discarded (primarily due to cosmetic issues); provide culinary training to men and women (most whom are coming out of foster care or the criminal justice system) who turn those ingredients into healthy, delicious meals; then distribute those meals to social service agencies serving the city’s most vulnerable, particularly low-income seniors, who are so often provided with processed foods. It’s an impressive cycle all aimed at “ensuring that neither food nor people go to waste,” and one that was noticed by the AARP Foundation, who awarded them a founding grant of $1 million, the largest single AARP grant in its history.

Tapping into the power of food and potential of people, I’d say Robert is disrupting more than just senior meals. L.A. Kitchen has also started a for-profit subsidiary—Strong Food—which will compete for food service contracts, employ graduates of the organization’s training program, and ultimately support L.A. Kitchen to be self-sustaining. That’s important to Robert not just from a financial perspective, but from an advocacy perspective as well. Too often the organizations best positioned to advocate for policy changes are prevented from doing so because of their funding models (most grants specifically state that funding cannot be used for advocacy) or their 501(c)3 status.

I’ve seen the power of culinary training programs with my own eyes–someone close to me, who’s faced their share of challenges, is currently enrolled (and thriving) in one—but L.A. Kitchen takes this to a whole new level, in a way that truly inspires my farmer’s-market-shopping-foodie heart. If you ever have a chance to meet Robert Egger or hear him speak, do. And be sure to check out the amazing work that L.A. Kitchen and D.C. Central Kitchen (the organization Robert founded and ran for 25 years before heading to Los Angeles) are doing.

 

resources: lgbtq funders

resources: lgbtq funders

We have been doing funding research lately for a few different projects that address issues relevant to the LGBTQ community and came across this directory from Funders for LGBTQ Issues.

This directory of funders enables the user to search by geographic area, funding priorities and grant types. Each funder’s profile includes the following details: contact information (including the person to contact), website URLs, funding priorities, grant types, limitations, geographic priorities, how to apply and average grant size.

Check it out; it will leave you encouraged about the opportunities that are out there.

the latest

the latest

We’re excited about the new year and what lies ahead for us. Three months in (has it ONLY been three months?), we’re continuing to bring in new team members and to take on new projects with new and existing clients. (We kicked one off today that we’re going to be chomping at the bit to talk about over the next few months.) We’ve even started to work with new partners, like WINTR and Turnstyle, here in Seattle and are exploring additional partnerships with folks on the other side of the country, that we’ll be happy to tell you about soon.

In the next few months, we’ll be hitting the road, heading to Sundance in January (again, a new partnership/project on the horizon), to New Haven in February for the 7th Annual Yale Philanthropy Conference, to Columbia, MO in March to soak up a year’s worth of documentary film in a weekend at our team member David Wilson‘s True False Film Fest and to San Francisco in April for the SexTech::2012 conference on “new media, youth and sexual health.” Come back and visit the site for news from the road, or you can always follow us on Twitter.

Thanks to everyone who has been cheering us on. Whatever you’re doing, it’s working, so keep it coming.