LABJ's LA STORIES
Los Angeles is becoming a Mecca for its water and toilet programs.
First came a delegation from Morocco to tour the West Basin Water Recycling Plant in El Segundo. The Moroccans were followed by the Korean Clean Toilet Association, led by section chief Yeon-Shik Kim, who was seeking tips on water conservation and low-flush toilets.
The plant showed off its ultra low-flush and dual-flush toilet programs, according to Nikki Montellano, spokeswoman for the Carson-based West Basin Municipal Water District. The toilets use about 1.6 gallons of water per flush, compared with older models that use three to seven gallons. The dual-flush toilet packs more power into each discharge.
In additions to the Koreans and the representatives from the Morocco Souss-Massa Integrated Water Project, a Mexican delegation also toured the plant recently.
It doesn't sound right fighting hunger by eating out more.
But that's what restaurant-goers will be asked to do next month, when the third annual L.A. Dine Out program gets under way.
From Aug. 16 to 29, more than 50 local restaurants, including Valentino, Eurochow, Vert and Michael's will offer three-course meals at fixed-price discounts to raise money for the Los Angeles chapter of Share Our Strength, a nationwide anti-hunger organization.
Nestle Waters North America will donate $1 for every meal served and give diners a complimentary bottle of S. Pellegrino sparkling water.
Last year, the program raised nearly $6,500 and this year the goal is at least $10,000. The money will help feed an estimated 777,000 Los Angeles residents who have been identified as hungry or "food insecure" by a California Food Policy Advocates report.
"I think it's a fantastic program," said Mary Sue Milliken, chef and co-owner of participating Border Grill and Ciudad. "It's a really committed group of chefs, and who cares more about people eating than people who cook all day?"
For $150, cuisine aficionados can sample the handiwork that made Michael Lomonaco (photo) executive chef of New York's Noche. The July 31 event at City Club on Bunker Hill is part of a series of charity fundraising dinner parties to raise money for the James Beard Foundation, the New York non-profit that promotes the culinary arts.
Lomonaco will cook with Derek Healy, City Club's executive chef and his former colleague from New York's 21 restaurant.
"It's kind of an honorary thing to be asked to participate in a James Beard event," said Healy, who will help prepare several courses including foie gras, yellowtail marinated with pickled onions, braised short rib and roasted New York strip with black truffle. "It's like the Emmys of cooking."
The Beard Foundation is known for its invitation-only dinners in the kitchen of the former home of James Beard, a distinguished American chef and cookbook author.
L.A. charities are growing faster than those in many other U.S. cities, and the area has the third-highest concentration of charities promoting health.
Those are among the findings of a recent study by Charity Navigator, which determined that 112 of the nation's top charities were based in L.A.
Charity Navigator ranked the city's individual charities for efficiency in fundraising, expenses and growth potential.
Among the highest-ranking charities were the Music Center Foundation, the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation, Catholic Charities of Los Angeles and Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services.
Los Angeles ranked 16th out of 25 in the Charity Navigator's overall score, which covers efficiency, growth and expenses. Pittsburgh ranked highest.
Tim Gamory, Charity Navigator's spokesman, said L.A.'s role in the world of charity is most notable on the health care front, especially considering donations for research. "Los Angeles plays a vital role in our country because they are positioning to continue this important work," he said.
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