Rookie Volunteer Makes Big Impact

Food Forward Kitchen Volunteer

Jeff (left) shows off our holiday jam selection.

Jeff has done it all. Since starting as a general volunteer at the Torrance Farmers Market in March 2015, Jeff has spent over 140 hours volunteering with Food Forward. He’s a Glean Team Leader and leads volunteers at the Torrance markets on a regular basis, but that hasn’t stopped him from traveling around Los Angeles County to volunteer at our fruit picks, craft and kitchen days, and community outreach events. He’s always willing to jump in when needed, fill in at other markets, and continues to sign up as a regular volunteer too. We also love having Jeff in the Food Forward family because he’s always up for our fun, fruity, festivities, whether that means coming out to a volunteer meet-up or celebration, or representing Food Forward in Angel City’s Avocado Eating Festival.

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

I graduated from college a couple years ago with a degree in Electrical Engineering. But I realized at the last minute that I had no interest in power or improving electrical devices – our society is becoming lazier with each release of “the latest fad.” So I did some exploring and decided to go… “earthy.” I did a Bing search for “gardening volunteering in Torrance” and found out about Food Forward’s gleaning at the Torrance Certified Farmers Market (TCFM) in Torrance. I had no idea what gleaning was and I didn’t know what to expect. But I signed up as a volunteer, anyways, since the farmers market was just on the other side of where I live. After 2 months and about 10 gleans later, I decided to step up to the plate by becoming a Glean Team Leader for the Torrance Farmers Market. And the rest, as they say, is history.

What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?

Food Forward’s Farmers Market Recovery program. I mentioned earlier that I didn’t know what gleaning was. Even though I grew up going to church, the word never came up in Sunday School or out of anybody’s mouth. The word may as well have been included in the list of “SAT words Jeff doesn’t know the meaning of.” I had no idea it existed in the Old Testament biblical times and that one of the reputable female Bible characters – Ruth – was a gleaner. It wasn’t until a friend of mine explained to me what it was that I began to see something amazing in the art of gleaning and how it can help our problem of food waste. Even though we aren’t gleaning in someone else’s farm, I think it’s amazing to see such an ancient act brought back into our modern day society.

What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?

When I’m not volunteering with Food Forward, I’m figuring out my next plan in life, co-leading a group of 7th grade boys in my church, and binge watching TV/Reality TV shows.

What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward? Any particular memories you’d like to share?

Oh my… There are so many awesome things I’ve found about Food Forward that it’s hard to pick one favorite part.

I would first say the gleanings at the Farmers Market. Seeing the boxes stacked and piled after each glean leaves me in a state of awe knowing that we would be giving 300 to 400 pounds of produce (and bread) to local non-profit organizations and agencies that deal with early head start programs, senior centers, kids or youth with physical or mental disabilities, and food banks/grocery distribution.

And…

I  L O V E D  making the Food Forward jams this recent winter! It was something I never experienced growing up, so it was cool to be part the making process and seeing everything unfold from gleaned fruit to jam. And they taste great too!

Any words of wisdom you live by?

“Sincerity means that the appearance and the reality are exactly the same.”  Oswald Chambers

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