September 20, 2018

Recenterpiece turns table decorations into food source

“When I think back to my bat mitzvah, I don’t remember much,” Deborah Kattler Kupetz said. “What I do remember was the centerpieces. There were little placards at each table explaining how much of the money raised would go to help others. And social action wasn’t big back then.”

That memory is the link between Kattler Kupetz’s past and her new venture, Recenterpiece, a business that creates centerpieces out of fruits, vegetables and flowers. After an event, the produce is distributed to food banks and other organizations that feed the homeless and families who cannot afford to buy enough food to stay healthy.

“The idea for Recenterpiece,” said Kattler Kupetz, CEO and founder of both dkkevents and Recenterpiece, “is to have something at the middle of a table for events that is just as beautiful as anything floral, but is also going to reduce food insecurity.”

An estimated 1.4 million people live with food insecurity in Los Angeles County, according to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. With food the second-largest source of waste in California according to a 2016 report by CalRecycle, Kattler Kupetz said she realized there had to be a better way of connecting food to those who need it.

“That’s how Recenterpiece comes in,” she said. Emerging from dkkevents, Recenterpiece is a new initiative to create reusable centerpieces by people who want to help solve a social need.

For any event, starting at around 50 people, Recenterpiece offers a variety of styles for centerpieces to complement the event. “We don’t want anyone to have to compromise on cost, style or feeling,” Kattler Kupetz said.

After the event is over, Recenterpiece takes the centerpieces to the partner food banks, where the food is made available for the hungry. Kattler Kupetz uses special software and technology that finds food banks closest to an event.

Before Recenterpiece began operating, Kattler Kupetz already had been thinking about hunger. “Going hungry is terrible,” she said. “It’s one of the most fundamental needs. It’s hard to get up and work or go to school when you’re just in pain from hunger.”

With that in mind, she decided to expand a project she had been doing for years, “making beautiful centerpieces with fruits and vegetables for clients alternatively. So why not make Recenterpiece its own thing?”

Among the 14 events she has completed was a concert at Sinai Temple for a bar mitzvah, which generated more than 1,000 pounds of produce that went to food banks in need. “It was incredible watching all these people just pay that extra bit of attention to their centerpiece,” Kattler Kupetz said.

Lauryn Harris Pimstone, who organized a recent 80th birthday party for her father-in-law, has been a dkkevents client. “The fact that they take care of delivery to me and the pickup and drop-off to donate is what I love,” she said.

Lauren Schiff, another dkkevents client, said she was attracted to the idea that the centerpieces serve a purpose beyond the ornamental.

“Whether it be a charity event, for graduation, for temple events, you’re going to decorate your table, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to spend your money on something that doesn’t go to waste,” she said.

Kattler Kupetz said her work at dkkevents and Recenterpiece evolved from a story she heard while attending Camp Ramah.

“It’s one of those classic Jewish stories, and I don’t even remember the whole thing,” she said. “But it was about two kings holding different banquets, and at the end, one of the kings says, ‘Look at this banquet and see that it’s all mine.’ But the second king brings everyone in and says, ‘See this? It’s all for you. Enjoy.’ ”

After stopping for a moment to think, Kattler Kupetz said, “And honestly, that sentiment has stuck with me for my entire life.”