Gwyneth Paltrow first learned about L.A. Kitchen from her chef pal Jose Andres. The nonprofit uses a 22,000-sq.-ft., $2.5 million facility in Northeast Los Angeles to train chefs from disadvantaged backgrounds. The chefs prepare meals using fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste. The organization has a goal of serving 2,000 to 3,000 meals a day to the general public, and 3,000 to 6,000 more to senior citizens by 2016.

“My feeling is that everybody in this country should be entitled to eat fresh, real food,” Paltrow says. “L.A. Kitchen is very much aligned with that idea.”

She recently gave a speech at a fundraiser, helping generate $200,000 for the organization while her 9-year-old son, Moses, volunteered as a waiter-in-training.

Photo: Pamela Littky for Variety

“She’s the real thing,” says Robert Egger, the organization’s president and founder. “She shows up, she’s sincere, and asks ‘How can I help poor people get access to meals?’ ”

The chefs at L.A. Kitchen prepare dishes from food donated by farmers, using produce that tastes fine, but may not look cosmetically ripe.

“We’re going to be able to serve the same kind of meals people get in West Hollywood or Beverly Hills at fancy restaurants,” Egger says. Adds Paltrow: “It’s an intelligent charity. They thought it through on so many levels.”

Paltrow says she began to study the importance of healthy eating when her father was diagnosed with cancer around 1997. “I started to look at food in a different way,” Paltrow says. “I learned about it, by speaking to nutritionists and nurses. I started to understand that food is medicine. And eating real food — unprocessed food, if you can do it — has such an impact on your health.”