Doing what he can to help

Meet our Volunteer of the Month, Harry Matsumoto! Harry is an Event Leader in three of Food Forward’s programs—he’s a Glean Team Leader, Pick Leader, and Community Ambassador! He’s been critical to keeping the Pasadena glean going over the past year or so, but especially since several of our Glean Team Leaders moved away this summer. He’s always willing to help, has agreed to lead at the last minute several times, and is always happy to be a part of any Food Forward event. The most impressive moment was in December, when Harry was shopping at the Alhambra farmers market and noticed that the Glean Team Leader hadn’t shown up. He called to let us know and offered to lead the glean right then and there!

San Gabriel Valley Harvest Coordinator, Dory Bennett, often leads big picks alongside Harry. She mentioned that right as she’s getting tired and overwhelmed, she’ll look up and sees Harry’s smiling face with orange juice for the team! 



So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?  
I got started when I became an health/life insurance agent authorized to offer AARP Medicare plans. This gave me access to the AARP website, which listed various volunteer opportunities. I searched the opportunities and I found an opportunity through LA Works about collecting produce for a good cause. LA Works forwarded me to Food Forward for the opportunities.


What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?
I thought the work and mission of Food Forward is a very important matter. Trying to solve food insecurity through produce recovery and redistribution to the less fortunate is a good cause to strive for.


What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
When I am not volunteering with Food Forward, I am a self-employed Information Technology Consultant, Health/Life Insurance Agent and a Notary Public. As a volunteer, I am the Construction Director for Friends of Faire at the Original Renaissance Faire in Irwindale, CA and other volunteer opportunities (i.e. church office support and events).


Photo Credit: The Sundial/John Hernandez

What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward? 
My favorite part about volunteering are the people that are involved with the different events. They are fun to work with. It is relaxing to do the work.


How would you describe the volunteer experience at a market?
The experience at a market glean is a slower paced collection environment for the volunteers than at a pick.  Doing a glean at a farmers market or a harvest pick, both give me a sense of accomplishment that we are making a difference.


What was your first volunteer day like?
The first volunteer day was kind of like any other first day of doing a job.  I was a little nervous about what the task would be to volunteer at the event.


What have you learned from volunteering?
Volunteering with Food Forward has shown me how much food insecurity that is out there in the local area. Also volunteering at a food pantry, showed me how much organization goes into collecting and distributing to the ones that need the items.



Is there a particularly powerful volunteering moment you’d like to share?
The most powerful moment for me was the one time that I volunteered at the food pantry and the gratitude that the people receiving the care packages showed.


Any words of wisdom you live by?
Do what you can to help with food insecurity and reduce food waste.

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