Modern day love story? Meet Robert Egger. I️ met him this morning, in the midst of chopping cauliflower aside his wife, Claudia, in attempt to prepare 10,000 meals to frontline first responders and firefighters in Santa Barbara, CA. This is not a one day adventure for this couple who has been married over 33 years.
Robert pioneered the model of L.A. Kitchen during his 24 year tenure as the President of the DC Central Kitchen, the country’s first “community kitchen”, where food donated by hospitality businesses and farms is used to fuel a nationally recognized culinary arts job training program. Today he manages L.A. Kitchen in the downtown Los Angeles region. Current project? Feeding those affected by the California wildfires, and with the rate of the spreading fires, quota of meals has doubled to 15,000- 20,000 meals per day to feed the mouths of those who have been evacuated from their homes. I️ met him in brief passing, a goodbye to his wife before he makes the drive down to Santa Barbara into the center of California’s current fire crisis.
What fascinates me? One specific day, one moment in time, shaped the course of Robert’s and Claudia’s life.
Claudia fidgets with her $18 wedding ring, masked under a layer of plastic kitchen gloves while she tells me the story of how 33 years prior, a young and in love Claudia and Robert wanted to get married and were searching for an affordable church. Temporarily dismayed by the number of churches outside their budget in Washington, they eventually landed upon a church that offered a volunteer opportunity and a $70 marriage fee as payment for a place to exchange wedding vows.
Done deal. Within that volunteer opportunity, preparing and distributing food to those in need and realizing he could do this too, in a BIGGER, less waste, more cost effective way to reach thousands, the idea was sparked that catapulted Robert towards one day becoming the President of the DC Central Kitchen and to current day manager of L.A. Kitchen. He is kind of a big deal.
And his view on this?
“Wrinkled food or wrinkled people, the idea is to show that just because something or someone has a bruise, blemish, or wrinkle doesn't mean that it doesn't have an important role in our society. The goal is to look past the superficial and dig deep to reach the potential"
Fast forward to three decades later, after a $70 wedding, an $18 wedding ring, a volunteer opportunity that proved life changing for Robert and Claudia, and a smokey and traffic filled drive for me to get to the heart of L.A. kitchen.
Today, for me too, was a moment in time, a glimpse into the number of life changing events that prompted me to be here today. And while I do not have a nonprofit to show for myself, I have my hands that have helped prepare food today for over 10,000 people, next to two very empowering individuals, and words - - words to empower you to take notice in your moments, and to share with you a story worth knowing.
The future isn’t about how many pounds of food you move, but how you utilize every ounce to liberate, empower or uplift.” Robert Egger
CA FIRE UPDATES
Thomas fire (Ventura and Santa Barbara counties)
Size: 230,500 acres Containment: 15%
Size: 4,100 acres Containment: 80%
Skirball fire (Bel-Air)
Size: 422 acres Containment: 85%
Creek fire (Sylmar)
Size: 15,619 acres Containment: 95%
Rye fire (Santa Clarita)
Size: 6,049 acres Containment: 93%
Liberty fire (Riverside County)
Size: 300 acres Containment: 100%
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
Visit http://www.lakitchen.org/volunteer/ to volunteer at L.A. Kitchen or go to thelakitchen on Facebook to sign up for a time