U.S. Bank, Capital Impact Partners, Los Angeles Development Fund, UrbanAmerica and Civic Enterprise Development have closed on financing for the $17.5 million acquisition and renovation of industrial space in Los Angeles’ Lincoln Heights neighborhood. The 56,000-square-foot building will become L.A. Prep, a multi-faceted food production business incubator for local entrepreneurs, and home to the nonprofit L.A. Kitchen.
Most of the space operates as an accelerator for small food producers who have outgrown their startup spaces. L.A. Prep partner and co-founder Food Centricity, a business accelerator focused on early and growth stage food companies, will provide business support and other key services to help tenants succeed. Food Centricity CEO Michel Algazi said, “L.A. Prep will deliver space, community and a suite of services for small food business unlike anywhere else in the country.”
L.A. Kitchen is a nonprofit/social enterprise that will collect or purchase surplus fruits and produce from farms and wholesale companies in the region. These products will fuel a 15-week, culinary arts job training program, which will prepare at-risk foster youth and older adults transitioning out of incarceration for jobs in the culinary field, helping reduce systemic patterns and become productive members of the Los Angeles community. Along with staff and volunteers, trainees will help produce thousands of snacks and ethnically diverse meals every day, which will be distributed for free to nonprofit partners or sold through contracts. L.A. Kitchen will serve a wide cross section of programs, but will emphasize partnerships that support senior centers, after-school programs or drug treatment facilities.
L.A. Kitchen is the vision of Robert Egger, the founder of D.C. Central Kitchen, a similar nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C. that has prepared more than 25 million meals for low-income and at-risk individuals since its founding 25 years ago.“L.A. Kitchen will help provide a basic need, food, to our community members in need, and in doing so, we’ll be able to help at-risk individuals learn and create opportunities for themselves,” said Egger. “In the United States, approximately 40% of edible food goes to waste, costing more than $165 billion each year. In Los Angeles alone, around 18 million pounds of food are disposed of every day.”