D.C. kitchen gets Oprah gift

Over the years, Oprah's angel network has donated millions to varying causes. A donation means more than just money, as at least one local non-profit has learned.

The D.C. kitchen prepares and donates more than 4,500 meals per day for local shelters, including the one upstairs. A job-training program is among several offered at the center.

It may have been that all-encompassing, problem-solving spirit that drew Oprah Winfrey's attention 10 years ago. At the time, the kitchen's founder Robert Egger accepted a $100,000 dollar donation from Oprah's angel network.

“The kitchen has received a lot of accolades over the year, but this is in a different league, this is Oprah,” Egger said. He says they used the money to expand their food recycling program to more than twenty college campuses nationwide.

“The kitchen isn't just what you see here, it's this idea that we hope reverberates out,” he says.

Egger says the kitchen received more attention after that brief appearance on the Oprah show; more cities became interested in replicating the program.
“We call it the ‘USDO’ stamp of approval, it's the united states department of Oprah,” he jokes. “When you've been on Oprah, it's amazing how fresh your stuff is, constantly.”

This attention has helped fun programs that help people help themselves – and others. Dawain Arrington is a regular. “Before, I was more into hurting people, now I'm more into saving lives,” the 39-year-old said.

“Just being a part of helping put food on the table and help folks get into housing and employed, I want to be a part of it,” he said.

Many of the people he supervises at the D.C. central kitchen come from similar troubled backgrounds -- involving homelessness, addiction, or time in prison.
But they're ready to start a new journey.

D.C. central kitchen is among several local organizations to receive the “use your life” award from Oprah's angel network. Others include the Seed Foundation, the Cesar Chavez public charter school, and the Dance Institute of Washington.