News / USA

Philanthropist Helps Thousands Cope with Hunger, Unemployment

D.C. Central Kitchen founder Robert Egger says, he does not do charity work -- he empowers people. His organization provides 1.5 million free meals a year, offers job training and partners with local restaurants. But VOA's Daniela Schrier has more with our latest installment of Making a Difference.

Robert Egger speaks with one of the kitchen volunteers responsible for providing meals for local after school programs, shelters, and drug treatment centers.
Robert Egger speaks with one of the kitchen volunteers responsible for providing meals for local after school programs, shelters, and drug treatment centers.
TEXT SIZE - +


This busy kitchen prepares thousands of meals a day for after school programs, homeless shelters and drug treatment centers across Washington.  But D.C. Central Kitchen founder and President Robert Egger says he has a broader agenda.  "Let's not just feed people, let's liberate people," he says.

Egger says it started 20 years ago when he was in the nightclub business.  One evening, while helping a volunteer group distribute food, he says he was shocked to learn how much it cost.

"I thought, 'Restaurants throw out a mountain of food.  You know someone should get that food and use it.  You could feed more people better food for less money,'" he explains.

So Robert Egger started his own operation to feed the hungry.  He also started a culinary training program to teach job skills to those in need.  On a recent graduation day, Egger says, every student had a job.    

He says the donated restaurant food saves the city of Washington, D.C. $5 million a year that can be used for other programs.

"So the drug treatment program, for example, can get more people in and get them clean and ready for programs like this because we do the meals," says Egger. 

While slicing melons, chef Jerald Thomas explains that he joined the culinary training program after recovering from alcoholism.  Now, 10 years later, he runs the kitchen.

"This is a worldwide problem.  And you look at Robert, how he started DC Central kitchen in 1989,  he started feeding 150 people," he recalls. "Who would have thought now we're feeding 4,500 in 2010."

The effort draws on a lot of volunteers -- 14,000 a year -- who slice and dice, and help out however they are needed.  

Egger urges everyone to look beyond the idea of charity. 

"In America every year, we spend almost $300 billion on charity," notes Egger.  "Yet our prisons are full; there are still people on the street.  There're just as many poor kids as there were 40 years ago.  So while it looks good, sounds good, feels good, it hasn't really broken through."

"I had incarceration, joblessness,"  adds Ellis.

William Ellis has spent most of this day grating carrots.  He is training to be a chef.

"We deal with a lot of things -- from job skills to life skills to coping with addictions," he explains.

Robert Egger says his organization is successful because it upends traditional methods of philanthropy.

"We use food that was thrown away, people our society undervalued, volunteers who wanted to be part of something powerful -- a kitchen that was underutilized -- we just reorganized things that were already here," he says.   

All of this culminates in a healthy meal for those in need, says a worker at the adult education center Living Wages in Washington.  "It's been a great a great support to us to keep this program going."

Robert Egger says the food is working as he intended -- to strengthen bodies and empower minds.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid