Making an Impact at the Market

4.24.17 – In honor of National Volunteer Week, check out our Volunteer of the Month of April! Our volunteers are out making an impact nearly every day of the week, all year round, but we’re excited to celebrate this week by sharing the best of what we have – our incredible volunteers – with you. Meet Karim, one of our amazing Glean Team Leaders at the Santa Monica Wednesday Farmers Market: 

Karim Damji, Glean

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

I jumped on the food recovery bandwagon after watching an episode of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight. What’s not to like about preventing food waste, while donating to those who need it?

I got started with Food Forward right before Thanksgiving 2015. I was looking for nutrition related volunteer opportunities. My first day was a great introduction to Food Forward — I got to meet some pretty cool people, get to know the vendors, and learn about the receiving agencies. I actually had fun recovering at the market. I got hooked. Before long, on weeks that I didn’t volunteer, I noticed something was missing.

What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?

I’ve realized that volunteering can be a form of entertainment. Volunteering is awesome: it’s a mix of good people, sunshine, and strolls. An hour gleaning is far more enjoyable than an hour watching TV. Recovering at the market just makes the whole day feel complete.

But by far, my favorite part about volunteering is seeing the huge stack of boxes at the end of the recovery. Donating money to charity is expensive, and impersonal. After the glean, you can see thousands of dollars of produce that just a few volunteers collected. There’s no way I could contribute that much in cash every week. Making a sizable impact doesn’t need to be difficult.

After the glean, you can see thousands of dollars of produce that just a few volunteers collected. Making a sizable impact doesn’t need to be difficult.

Is there a particularly powerful volunteering moment you’d like to share?

This one:

Volunteer team at the Santa Monica Market

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

Most of my time away from Food Forward is spent listening to podcasts while commuting on the 405. Aside from that, cooking, kickboxing, and good company fill my time.

Any words of wisdom you live by?

“Everything in moderation, even moderation” – Dead Prez

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