PERREAULT Magazine SEPT | OCT 2016 - Page 58

Perreault Magazine - 58 -

Robert was included in the NonProfit Times list of the “50 Most Powerful and Influential” nonprofit leaders from 2006-2009. He was the recipient of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s 2007 “Lifetime Achievement” award and the 2004 James Beard Foundation “Humanitarian of the Year” award. He has been named an Oprah Angel, a Washingtonian of the Year, a Point of Light, a Food Hero by Food Tank, a REAL Food Innovator by the US Healthful Food Council, and one of the Ten Most Caring People in America by the Caring Institute. He is also a 15-gallon blood donor to the American Red Cross.

Robert speaks throughout the country and internationally on the subjects of hunger, sustainability, nonprofit political engagement and social enterprise. He writes blogs and editorials to share his ideas about the nonprofit sector and the future of America.


SK: Robert, you’re not a typical foodie. You created a moment to empower people from all walks of life including previously incarcerated and formerly gang-involved. in 1989, did you have any ideas what it would take to build a D.C. Central Kitchen?

RE: In 1988, when I stared putting DCCK together, I was a young man on fire with ideas about how we could lift people UP with food, not just feed them. I had volunteered to serve people who were living on the streets of Washington, DC, and the method being used struck me as glorious in intent, but limited in impact. I wanted to use food to train people for jobs, engage volunteers, and enlist chefs in the process. I wanted to shorten the line of people waiting for free food by the way we served it. I certainly didn’t think the idea would grow as much as it has…not just in DC, but in cities and campuses around the country.

SK: Before you entered the nonprofit sector, you were successful running night clubs in Washington, D.C. At 21, you moved to D.C. and found a job at a popular club named the Childe Harold.

I heard that your favorite movie was Casablanca. You dreamed to change the world through music. You changed it through food. What skills did you learn that helped you to thrive?

RE: Everybody has a role to play, a gift, a purpose. A great nonprofit doesn’t try to fix the problem as much as reveal the solutions that often times are overlooked.