“It is every founder’s dream that someday the organization they launch will be strong and stable enough to survive — and thrive — without them. That day has come for this founder,” said Robert in his latest blog post.
This move will bring Robert back to the town of his roots, Los Angeles, where he sees an incredible vacuum with millions of pounds of California’s fresh fruits and vegetables going to waste. Robert is launching a brand new organization, L.A. Kitchen, to recover that produce and transform it into healthy meals for hungry senior citizens. As L.A. Kitchen thrives, the meals will fuel a job training program to empower unemployed Angelenos.
Robert leaves our thriving powerhouse of an organization in the very capable hands of current CEO Michael Curtin, Jr.
“There’s a BIG difference between a leader and a boss, a door-opener and a gate-keeper and a talker and a doer. I plan on illustrating those stark differences for the rest of my life,” said Robert.
We interviewed Robert about L.A. Kitchen and what he’ll miss the most about DCCK.
Q: When did it occur you to start L.A. Kitchen?
Robert: Since the 1990’s, I’ve met and worked with countless LA/CA based food groups, and ALL spoke about the volume of food wasted, yet none had the capacity to capture that food. Our national food distribution system is a hostage to time…in that, every second a piece of fruit or vegetable sits, it is decomposing. I always dreamed of freezing food, which is what we began doing at DCCK a few years back. LAK will take that idea to 11.
Q: What is the most powerful lesson you’ve learned from starting several organizations, including DC Central Kitchen and CForward, that will influence the way you lead L.A. Kitchen?
Robert: Don’t chased money, chase results. If you chase money, you run forever. You chase results, money comes to you.
Q: Who have been your greatest influences in your life and as an social entrepreneur?
Robert: Ghandi, King and Chavez. ALL three were social entrepreneurs. They saw wrong, and rather than bemoan injustices, they got smart, helped people find common ground and then used market forces to challenge the illusion of power. It’s what we do, in a fashion, at DCCK—we reveal the power people always had and help them channel it in productive, liberating ways.
Q: Why focus on senior meals?
Robert: Anybody in the “hunger” world, no matter who you serve now, will be serving seniors in the immediate future. There’s a waiting list for Meals on Wheels NOW, and there are 80 million baby boomers coming down the road. As Bob Dylan sang “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”. Instead of waiting, I’m going to march out to meet the future.
Q: What’s one of your favorite moments being at DC Central Kitchen?
Robert: The day I saw a group of doctors, standing around a recovering addict, as he taught them how to cut carrots. That was an eureka moment, and revealed the true potential of DCCK. If we just put people side x side, so that we could explore the power of community, and reveal that everyone has a skill, everyone has a gift, then we could help people over the burdensome stereotype of ”us” and “them” and move all toward “we”.
Q: What is the thing you’re going to miss most about DC and DCCK?
Robert: The friends I’ve made. My clunky mop closet office. The sounds and smells as the day progresses. GRADUATION DAY. But I’ll replicate those things in LA. It’ll be cool, it’ll be bad…but it will never be DCCK.