Helping make the world go round

Meet our Volunteer of the Month, Mary MacVean! Mary is a regular at our Produce Pick-Up in Watts, in partnership with the Watts Labor Community Action Committee. Mary is training to become a Produce Pick-Up Lead to support staff at the distributions. Beyond her help at the Watts Produce Pick-Up, Mary is a member of Food Forward’s Kitchen Cabinet and Spring Melt Auction Committee. We’re so grateful for all the different ways she puts her talents and passion to use in support of our work!



So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?
I met Rick early in the life of Food Forward. I had heard about what he had just started. I was a reporter for the LA Times then and wrote a story about the project. We liked each other and stayed in touch.

What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?
What I have always loved is the simplicity and easy logic.

What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
At the moment, I am in my house unless I am taking a run or walking my dog. But otherwise, I am a writer. And I spend a fair amount of time in the community. I also am extraordinarily lucky to have a remarkable assortment of friends, and I feel strongly about nurturing those relationships.


Mary invited Food Forward, along with other local food waste organizations, to a screening and discussion of Wasted: The Story of Food Waste.

What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?
I like that I can have different roles: the Kitchen Cabinet, the auction committee, and the Watts Produce Pick-Up.

How would you describe the volunteer experience at a produce pick-up?
I’ve been studying to be a Lead at the Watts Produce Pick-Up. It’s serious work, as we sort through the donated food and find the best way to set up an appealing market. Everyone is working hard. When the community comes to shop and sees the bounty, that’s the fun part. People often are happily surprised when they ask how many they can take of an item and are told, “As many as you can use.”

What have you learned from volunteering?
I grew up in a home where volunteering was just part of what one did. It could be private and quiet work for a neighbor. Or part of a bigger organization. So honestly, until very recently I thought it was just what helped make the world go around. Lately, I have become very unenamored with the way the extremely wealthy—the top fraction of a percent, the famous ones—are setting priorities for what social ills are addressed and how, for what public education should look like and many more. I worry the system is deeply broken.

Any words of wisdom you live by?
That changes from time to time. I do keep a list on my bathroom mirror that offers advice for each day of the week. For example, Friday is about forgiveness—something I can always use a little help to achieve.


Mary sporting her Food Forward bandana face mask! 
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