Madhumitha Rajendran has summarized the panel discussion and put together a set of interesting quotes.


ROBERT EGGER,  Founder, L.A.Kitchen

How do we not only avoid waste, but how do we do it differently?

  • Restaurants are throwing away food, why doesn’t somebody collect that and bring it back to a central kitchen, where you can feed more people better food for less money. You can get people to come out of the rain, and be part of a solution.
  • I started a cooking school for people who may be homeless, addicts or ex-prisoners.
  • I was told that homeless people couldn’t work, shockingly. 30 years later, here I am in a 20,000 square feet facility that brings in 1000 pounds of cosmetically imperfect fruits and vegetables daily. This is used to fuel a culinary arts training program 15 weeks long, where people who are either aging out of foster care or moving out from prisons to the streets, are being guided away from that road by the other half of the training program by older men and women.
  • I love what I do here, today 2000-3000 plant based meals will be prepared from donations. The remaining time is spent in conversations like these, talking collectively and globally about waste.

A lot of things I work with are things that our society views as part of the problem. We throw away 40% of produced food- half of it is fruits and vegetables. 

  • About 50 cities have done a variation of the DC kitchen which is a program I started in 1989. Campus kitchens is a great idea where a hundred million people under 30 in USA are raised doing service.
  • I noticed a rural school in Indiana, which had a cafeteria and kitchen closed during afternoons, nights and weekends, and a community full of people looking to serve.
  • In the LA kitchen, I have focused on aging, which is an important aspect globally. The concept I have used here can be taken to any town, because everything I use exists in every town.

360 billion dollars is donated to non-profits every year in the US, we have 4 trillion in assets, 14 million employees, 70 million volunteers, and you can’t make profit without non-profits.

  • No one has addressed the role of non-profit organizations in the global economy and re-building.
  • NGOs sadly fall into the category of being viewed as valueless. The work done here has always been viewed as feeding the poor, but not in terms of the 5 million dollars brought into LA and the jobs given to socially vulnerable people.
  • Every year, about 80 people graduate from our job training programs, and those people will go on to earn 2 million dollars every year as salaries, and pay taxes.
  • I am intrigued that we haven’t figured out how to invest in non-profits and create a return on investment formula, to see if a non-profit can show verifiable economic impact.

You can invest in your community through NGOs, and make your community stronger, cleaner, and attain wealth through that investment.

If we keep feeding the poor without working to reduce the number of poor people, one day, the food will be gone. The food is reducing, while the demand is increasing, which only able-bodied people could access.

  • Every day, 10,000 people in the US turn 70 years old, and there’s no plan to feed them. A working mother of two and an old woman require different systems.
  • Looking at the demographics and savings patterns, we have been told generally not to save but buy. We live to consume.
  • The problem is bigger than me, and I can’t fix it. But I can reveal the power that exists in most communities, and a new way to look at it.
  • I would like to partner with a younger generation of food nutritionists and doctors to create medically specific formulae for juices, broth, that I can use for an addict or older person, to strengthen them.
  • One of my end goals is a generation of mayors who look at their city and want to try something radically different. They should be willing to invest if the idea is going to keep money local, keep people off the streets, reduce waste, train people, and engage older people.
  • We should teach the younger generation to build a business or lifestyle to practice relentless incrementalism, rather than to attain wealth and redistribute it later, trying to offset the damage caused.
  • Robert Egger

    Founder, L.A Kitchen

    Robert Egger is a 30 year veteran of social enterprise and empowerment, having founded the D.C. Cent...
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