Food Forward Blog
Veggie of the Month: Spaghetti Squash

It’s Time to Start Thinking About Spaghetti Squash

The name Spaghetti Squash, or as we prefer to call it “Squaghetti”, derives its name from the uniquely textured flesh. Spaghetti squash is a yellow, mildly flavored winter squash, with a fun oblong shape. After cooking and running a folk through it, its flesh separates into a bevy of spaghetti-like strands. It is the ideal substitute for pasta, offering a low-carb, vitamin rich alternative to bleached noodles or high-gluten flour.  Squash in general is very healthy for you; chock full of vitamin A, potassium, and heart-healthy omega 3’s, winter squash should be a welcomed guest at your dining table this season.

Feeling Ambitious?  Try Growing Your Own!

Starting from Seed

Spaghetti squash need a long growing season (~100 days), and warm sunny days and that includes warmth at planting time. We recommend waiting at least a week after the last frost occurs.

Growing Instructions

Keep your plants watered, and weed-free while the leaves are developing. Once the wide leaves are fully developed, they will start to shade their surrounding soil and keep the weeds out.

After the peak of the summer, you should remove any new blossoms (check out our favorite recipe here, courtesy of dolly and oatmeal) that your squash vines produce. There won’t be enough time left for them to mature and the plant’s resources would be better used growing the already-developing squash on the vine.

Due to the long growing time for squash, they can be prone to rot or decay as they rest on the ground.  This is easily remedied with a small lid or plate to rest the squash on.

Harvest

Spaghetti squash are quite large, each individual squash can grow to be around 4 pounds at peak. Each plant will produce between 4-6 squash…unfortunately they can’t be harvested small/early like zucchini or summer squash. They don’t develop that way. Spaghetti squash (all winter squash actually) need to fully mature before harvesting.

A tried and true method to tell if your squash is ready is to push your fingernail into the outside skin. The skin should be tough enough to withstand your nail. If it punctures, your squash need more time. Depending on your climate, another sign is that you should harvest your squash when the vines start to wither.

Health Benefits

  • Other than the above nutrients of spaghetti squash, it also contains omega-3 essential fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. While omega-3 fatty acids help prevent heart diseases, inflammation occasioned by arthritis and different types of cancers, omega-6 fatty acids are ideal for promoting proper brain function. Omega – 6 has a variety of minerals and vitamins, which are essential for proper functioning of your body.
  • Some of the recent conducted health studies have proven that spaghetti squash helps reduce the risk of prostate cancer
  • Spaghetti squash is rich in beta carotene, which is essential in preventing atherosclerosis. It also has numerous health benefits especially for people with insulin deficiency.
  • The fact that spaghetti squash has a lot of potassium makes it the ideal diet for people with blood pressure. It can amazingly lower high blood pressure if consumed over time. The folate contained in the spaghetti squash helps in strengthening the walls of blood vessels besides enhancing blood circulation.
  • Pregnant women are encouraged to consume spaghetti squash more frequently since the folate contained in it helps in preventing birth defects which can occur when a woman is delivering the baby.

Article written by Matthew Lorton, Food Forward Volunteer and Avid Food & Beverage Writer

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Volunteer of the Month: Gunther Schulz

Say hello to October’s Food Forward Volunteer of the Month: Gunther Schulz aka Mr. Glean!

Gunther came onto the scene last spring and blew us away with his powerhouse picking! Since then, he has attended nearly every fruit harvest in the San Gabriel Valley and began leading picks earlier this summer. Gunther is so dedicated that he is also currently volunteering as an assistant for the Backyard Harvest Program, with a focus on our SGV expansion. He works incredibly hard and always lends a helping hand, whether he’s driving a FF vehicle or carrying bucket after bucket of oranges, and still manages to crack jokes! His positive attitude and genuine kindness make him a true Super Volunteer. And, check out that sweet t-shirt he rocks! Read more about Gunther below.

So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?

I first found Food Forward when searching for an opportunity to learn more about local food access and distribution for a class I was taking. My major field focuses on Earth, Society, and Sustainability and food security is a topic that interests me greatly. When I read about Food Forward, I knew I had found the perfect opportunity to not only learn more, but to be a part of something important and meaningful.

What are some other projects you’re working on that you’d like to share?

As I mentioned, I am currently working on my BS degree at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. In addition to food security, I am interested in water conservation and energy consumption issues related to food production. I think it is important to be aware of our footprint and to work toward sustainability. I am also a stay at home dad to a beautiful daughter with special needs. She is really what makes all of this so important as she makes everything better and has made me realize that what I do impacts others. I want to make her proud.

What is your favorite memory working with Food Forward?

I enjoy all of my memories of Food Forward. I think the best feeling is when I hear how many pounds of food we have gleaned at the end of a pick and knowing how many people will be able to eat fresh and healthy food because of it.

Any wisdom you’d like to share with the world about life?

Be present, take responsibility, work hard, and all things will work out. It may not be the way you want it to but it is usually the way that gets us out of our comfort zone and expands our horizons. Life is sometimes hard, but the struggles are what make us better people.

Read More: Posted in Community Action, Los Angeles Volunteer, Uncategorized, Urban Fruit Gleaning, Urban Hunger
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Food Forward is Hiring a Backyard Harvest Coordinator!

POSITION OVERVIEW: The Program Coordinator will report to the Backyard Harvest Program Manager. This is an opportunity to become deeply involved in the urban food justice community, while working for a prominent and growing nonprofit. This person will work with property owners who have fruit to donate by gathering essential harvesting and logistical information for our database to organize and coordinate picks. Tasks will include communicating with property owners who have fruit trees, scheduling harvesting events, and coordinating event details for each harvest. The Program Coordinator will also play a key role in managing the 50+ Super Volunteers and be the main point of contact. This position is Full Time

CORE RESPONSIBILITIES:

• Managing & communicating with 40-50 Pick Leaders and homeowners to schedule and coordinate 50-60+ unique harvesting events every month
• Main point of contact for homeowners, receiving agencies, and Super Volunteers
• Maintaining relationships with 1000+ homeowners and with 150+ receiving agencies (food pantries or donation centers)
• Managing and improving a database of over 2000 properties and 1600 harvesting events (since 2009)
• Training, overseeing, and onboarding Super Volunteers: Pick Leaders and Property Scouts
• Frequent written and verbal communication with property owners and receiving agencies
• Updating our WordPress site and database

QUALIFICATIONS:

Ideal candidate will have a strong interest in hunger and food justice issues. We are looking for an extremely detail-oriented person who enjoys organizing and collecting data and information. He/she can work efficiently and comfortably on a website to manage large amounts of detailed information. The candidate should be personable and able to communicate with various personalities and temperaments. The Backyard Harvest Program is constantly evolving, and the ideal candidate will be able to adapt and support the continued growth of the program. The candidate must have a strong knowledge of local fruit tree varietals and fruit tree care. The candidate should be highly versed in Los Angeles and SFV geography.

Minimum requirements:
• Bachelors Degree in a related field (Environment Science, Urban Planning, Public Policy)
• Proven effective data management skills
• Strong people and public speaking skills
• Experience in event planning
• Ability to lift 40-60lb boxes repeatedly
• Ability to communicate with various temperaments and populations
• A flexible team player who is able to work well under pressure and time constraints
• Experience working in a fast paced environment- start up or non-profit desired
• Knowledge of locally grown tree varieties, including harvest seasons, tree size and shape, fruit qualities
• Strong knowledge of LA geography, neighborhoods, and streets
• Experience in food justice work desired
• Proactive and willingness to improve on program strategies, workflows, and documents
• Strong knowledge and comfort with WordPress, Facebook, and other Social Media
• A valid drivers license
• Willingness and available to work some weekends

Salary: DOE

How to Apply:

Send a cover letter in the body of the email and attach your resume in a PDF version to info@foodforward.org. The subject line should read, BYH Program Coordinator – (Your Name). No phone calls please. Please follow these instructions to insure that we process your application.

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Volunteer of the Month: Devyn Malouf

We first met Devyn at the beginning of her summer break from Notre Dame High School after she participated in a harvest and wanted to become more involved with Food Forward’s work. It quickly became clear that Devyn was not only a motivated and dedicated volunteer but that she was a real pro with social media! She worked all summer long to perfect a social media schedule with the staff while also doing regular fruit picks. Devyn is super creative, smart and articulate, and it’s been a real joy to have her on the Food Forward team! Read more about this awesome volunteer below.

So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?

I was first introduced to Food Forward about 2 years ago when I did a pick with my family, but I didn’t really get involved until this past June. Like any other teenager, I was looking for a way to spend my summer, but I wanted to find something that was both fun and fulfilling. I’ve had a passion for philanthropy since I was 10, and I loved (loved LOVED) what Food Forward was doing, so it seemed like a perfect fit. A few emails and a meeting later, and I had an internship.

What are some other projects you’re working on that you’d like to share?

Currently, I’m working on social media at Food Forward, and having an absolute blast! Much of what I do requires aggregating social content from the bright minds at Food Forward, as well as reading and research (to find the best content to post on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram). What amazes me the most is how much I’ve learned, not just about global environmental and hunger issues, but about the incredible things other NPOs are doing. I love being in a position to share what inspires me, and, hopefully inspire others.

What is your favorite memory working with Food Forward?

If I had to choose one memory, it would have to be when we were surprised with a kayaking trip down the LA River as a team-building exercise. It was something so completely unexpected and out-of-the-box, but so much fun! The people at Food Forward are amazing, and I had a great time hanging out with them.

Any wisdom you’d like to share with the world about life?

It’s a bit strange sharing ‘words of wisdom’ at the age of 16, but I can say that as a swimmer, one of the many things I’ve learned is to focus on what is directly in front of you. When you approach a race, you don’t get up on the blocks thinking about how you’re going to pace it, or what your turn is going to be like; you think about your dive. After your dive, you think about your first stroke, then your second stroke, and so on. It becomes about enjoying the process and then celebrating the end result, which Food Forward does every day. Food Forward is such a community-powered organization, where volunteers spend countless hours with their friends and family, enjoying the company and picking fruit that will be delivered that day to someone who, otherwise, wouldn’t get it. It makes the deliveries – and the cause, in general – so much more meaningful and rewarding.

Everyday that I’m at Food Forward is such a humbling and wonderful experience. The people who work there are all so bright and passionate about what they do, which happens to be something that’s impacting the community in such a powerful and positive way. It’s incredibly inspiring.

Read More: Posted in Los Angeles Volunteer, Uncategorized, Volunteer Organization
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Food Forward is hiring a Ventura Branch Manager!

Position: The VC Branch Manager will report to the Operations Director and will be responsible for the continued growth and development of Food Forward Ventura County.  The ideal candidate RESIDES in VENTURA COUNTY, is passionate about hunger/food justice issues, high energy, charismatic, has an entrepreneurial spirit and is connected to the food and fruit cultivation community of Ventura County.  The candidate will become an Ambassador for Food Forward, identifying and engaging community partners, volunteers, civic leaders, corporate leaders, farmers, students and others interested in Food Forward and our work.  He/She must have prior management experience, as the first major duty will be to build out the team of a P/T coordinator and P/T driver to help in day-to-day operations.

Minimum Requirements:

  • 2-3 years Managerial experience in fast paced environment
  • Working knowledge of Ventura County geography and demographics
  • Valid California drivers license
  • Keen passion and understanding of food justice issues
  • Understanding and ease of execution with coordination of multiple outdoor events on a monthly basis, held at numerous locations, with several dozen stakeholders
  • Ability to pick fruit, lifting boxes and transporting fruit should the need arise
  • Play well with others (volunteers, homeowners, farmers, donors, community partners, etc.)
  • Connected to the food and farming community of Ventura County.
  • Very Proficient in Microsoft Office and Google Docs

Responsibilities:

  • Manage Backyard Harvest Operations which include but are not limited to:
    • Homeowner TLC, cultivation and growth
    • Volunteer Recruitment & Retention
    • Maintain and grow Receiving Agency/Community partnerships
    • Ensure adequate number of harvesting events are successfully held each month
    • Equipment Hub and Equipment Oversight
    • Insure timely and accurate reporting of Key Performance Metrics
  • Hire & Manage VC Coordinator
  • Onboarding of new programs in partnerships w/FF program managers
  • Tabling and Speaking engagements to promote FF in the region to create awareness
  • Document Policies & Procedure as well as best practices

Hours: 40 per week (will include weekend work)

Compensation: DOE

How to Apply:

Send a cover letter in the body of the email and attach your resume in a PDF version to info@foodforward.org.  The subject line should read, VC Branch Manager – (Your Name). No phone calls please. Please follow these instructions to insure that we process your application.

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lbs. of fruit picked to date

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