The Story of Food Forward
In January 2009, Rick Nahmias was walking through his neighborhood in Valley Glen, California with his dog and stumbled—almost quite literally—upon the concept that became Food Forward. Rick realized the vast amount of wasted fruit in his own neighborhood could become a sustainable source of nutrition for the food insecure. With only two volunteers and a single backyard, over 800 pounds of fruit was produced from the first “pick.”
In 2011, Food Forward matured from an all-volunteer, grassroots group to gaining 501(c)(3) non-profit status, hiring the first paid staff member, and creating a formal Board of Directors. With this more formal structure and tax-exempt status, Food Forward was ready to further increase harvesting activities. Ventura County became home to the second Food Forward branch and collection spread to the San Gabriel Valley. The organization also started to look at two additional avenues for produce rescue – farmers markets and the Downtown Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market. Now, Food Forward focuses its efforts on three primary produce recovery programs: Backyard Harvest, Farmers Market Recovery, and Wholesale Produce Market Recovery.
In all three programs, produce is delivered within 24 hours of recovery or less to over 150 hunger relief organizations, some of whom distribute to an additional 300 direct service agencies. This nutritious produce will reach people in need through social service agencies of all kinds. Gleaning labor is provided by our 7,000 community volunteers at an average of over 160 produce recovery events a month.
In the last 8 years, Food Forward has rescued over 35 million pounds (over 140 million servings) of fresh local produce.
Food Forward’s produce recovery programs provide an innovative, cost-effective, scalable, and replicable solution to the increasing need for food donations and the shortage of nutritious options available to our Southern California neighbors in need.
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