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LA Kitchen's job training for ex-cons, foster kids

by John Rabe | Off-Ramp®

L.A. Kitchen's Robert Egger unlocks the door at 230 West Avenue 26 in L.A.'s Lincoln Heights neighborhood, the headquarters for his new venture, which will teach job and life skills to foster kids and ex-cons. John Rabe

Robert Egger calls it "Homeboy Industries meets the Food Bank."

For decades, Egger ran DC Central Kitchen in Washington, a job training program that used donated food from food service companies and farms. Now, he's bringing the concept to Los Angeles and calling it L.A. Kitchen.

"This time, we're going to offer young men and women aging out of foster care, and older men and women coming back from prison, the chance to work side by side, in kind of an inter-generational, peer-mentoring job training program," Egger said.

I spoke with Egger at LA Kitchen's new headquarters (the old HQ was his house in Mount Washington) on West Avenue 26 in L.A.'s Lincoln Heights neighborhood. It's a huge industrial space with plenty of room for kitchens, cold storage, training and more.

Robert Egger on L.A. Kitchen

Here's how it works, in a nutshell: The food comes in, much of it surplus or blemished food from farms in the Central Valley. The trainees and thousands of volunteers at L.A. Kitchen process it into meals, with the emphasis on meals for seniors. (Egger is working with what he says is the first ever $1 million grant from the AARP to help feed the growing population of seniors.)

Egger said that dedication of the program in Lincoln Heights is set for Dec. 10. The demo begins after that, with the goal of opening in time for the new school year in 2014.

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