Cool as a Cucumber

June 21st, 2017

6.21.17 – This widely known idiom meaning calm and composed may be based on the fact that in hot weather, the insides of cucumbers remain cooler than the air. Feeling thirsty during the heat wave? Grab a cucumber to help hydrate yourself because they are, in fact, 95% water!

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Background:

Cucumbers are part of the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes melons, squashes and gourds. Cucumbers have three main varieties: slicing, pickling, and “burpless.

  • Slicing Cucumbers are long, straight cucumbers that are the variety you are most likely to find in a supermarket. They have thin, non-bitter skin and small seeds.
  • Pickling Cucumbers are shorter, plumper, and have more textured, drier skin that soaks up the pickling brine.
  • “Burpless” Cucumbers are slicing cucumbers that have been bred to be less bitter and not release gas in the stomach. They are most commonly grown in greenhouses and are usually marketed as seedless.

History:

Today, cucumbers are one of the most widely cultivated plants in the world but their origin actually traces back 4,000 years to ancient India. Around 2,000 years ago, cucumbers started to spread through the Middle East and Europe but it is the Roman Empire that truly embraced this plant. Other than eating, Romans also used cucumbers medicinally to remedy over 40 different ailments including bad eyesight, scorpion bites, and improving fertility. Emperor Tiberius (14-16 AD) famously demanded to eat a cucumber every single day of the year. In the 16th century, Europeans brought cucumbers to North America and Native American tribes quickly capitalized on the plant’s potential by integrating it into their own farming. In 2017, cucumbers are grown across the world and they are even fairly easy to grow in your own yard in Southern California’s climate.

Fun Facts:

-According to Guinness’ World Records, the heaviest cucumber ever recorded was 23 lb. 7 oz. and was grown by David Thomas in the UK in September 2015.

-Cucumbers have eye-soothing abilities. Their high water content will help hydrate skin while the cool temperature will contract blood vessels, both of which will help reduce swelling. Put a cucumber in the refrigerator for few hours to cool it down. Once cooled, cut two thick slices. Find a relaxing spot to lay back and place the cucumber slices over your eyes for 10-15 minutes. 

-Cucumber can actually cure bad breath. The phytochemicals found in chemicals have the potential to kill the bacteria that cause your breath to smell.  Press a slice of cucumber on your mouth for 30 seconds to test it out!

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Recipes:

Cucumber Agua Fresca

 

Ingredients (serves 8):

-4 ½ cups coarsely chopped, deseeded and peeled cucumbers (about 4 medium)

-4 cups cold water

-2 cups ice cubes

-1 cup sugar

-2/3 cup fresh lime juice

-2 large pinches of salt

-Additional ice cubes

Preparation:

  1.     Combine cucumbers, water, 2 cup ice cubes, sugar,  lime juice, and salt in blender. Blend until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth but slushy, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to pitcher. Serve with additional ice cubes

 

Greek Salad

Ingredients:

-1 hothouse or English Cucumber, sliced 1/2 inch thick and into quarters

-1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

-1/2 red onion, thinly sliced in half-rounds

-8oz feta cheese, sliced into ½-inch cubes (not crumbled)

-1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

Vinaigrette:

-2 garlic cloves, minced

-1 tsp. dried oregano

-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

-1/4 cup red wide vinegar

-1 tsp. kosher salt

-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

-1/2 cup good olive oil

Preparation:

  1. Place the cucumbers, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.
  2. For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Still whisking, slowly add the olive oil to make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta and olives and toss lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.

 

Quick Pickle

Ingredients

-4 small, firm cucumbers such as Kirby or Persian, peeled or scrubbed, sliced 1/8-inch thick

-1 tbsp. sugar

-1 ½ tsp. fine sea salt:

-1 tbsp. rice vinegar

Preparation:

  1. Slice cucumbers 1/8-inch thick using a mandoline or a sharp knife. Toss with the sugar and salt and leave in a colander to drain for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse well and drain.
  2. In a bowl, toss cucumbers with the vinegar, tasting and adding more as desired. Store in a container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Scrivani at the New York Times

Photo courtesy of Andrew Scrivani at the New York Times

Sources:

http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/heaviest-cucumber/

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/cucumber-agua-fresca-201229

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/greek-salad-recipe-1948517

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018012-quick-pickles

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/cool-as-a-cucumber

http://www.grow-it-organically.com/cucumber-varieties.html#slicing

http://www.vegetablefacts.net/vegetable-history/history-of-cucumbers/

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June 22 is Community Giving Day at your local Whole Foods

June 14th, 2017

UPDATE:

The numbers are in! Whole Foods donated $120,194.05 in sales from 5% Day, allowing Food Forward to recover an additional 1,335,500 pounds of fruits and vegetables this year.

THANK YOU!

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On
Thursday, June 22, Whole Foods Market stores across the LA area will donate 5% of their net sales to support Food Forward’s work in the region.

You can make a difference by shopping at
any of these participating stores: Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Fairfax, Downtown Los Angeles, Glendale, Long Beach, El Segundo, Pasadena (Arroyo Parkway), East Pasadena (Foothill Blvd.), Playa Vista, Northridge/Porter Ranch, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica (23rd & Wilshire, Montana Ave., 5th & Wilshire), Sherman Oaks East, Sherman Oaks West, Silver Lake, Tarzana, Thousand Oaks, Torrance, Valencia/Santa Clarita, Venice, West Hollywood, West Los AngelesWestwood, and Woodland Hills markets.

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Better yet, swing by a
 DIY Harvest Drop Off at one of the 6 participating stores to donate your backyard produce! We’ll be accepting fresh, excess produce from your backyard tree or garden from 11am-2pm at the Downtown LA, East Pasadena (Foothill Blvd.), Woodland Hills, Thousand Oaks, El Segundo, and Long Beach Whole Foods Markets.

 

DIY Harvest FAQ

  • What can I bring?
    • Any fresh, uncut fruits or vegetables that you yourself would eat! Please leave any green/unripe, damaged, or broken produce at home.
  • How do I bring it?
    • In a bag, box, or in your hands — even one or two lemons can be a welcome delivery at a local agency! We’ll box it up for you at the drop-off.
  • Where will this produce go?
    • Your excess produce will be dropped off to one of our existing partners, such as a food pantry, in the immediate area of this Whole Foods Market. How’s that for acting locally?
  • I don’t have a backyard to harvest from, but I’d still like to help. How can I?
    • You’re welcome to donate any fresh, unprocessed produce that you buy at Whole Foods Market today. Grab-and-go pieces of fruit that require no refrigeration — like apples, oranges, and slightly underripe bananas — are best! We also welcome you to register to volunteer or donate to support our work.
  • I can only reach a few pieces of fruit. Can you help me harvest the rest?
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Rescued Ice Cream Flavors with Salt & Straw

June 4th, 2017

6.4.17 – Food Forward is proud to have sourced backyard citrus, beet greens, and strawberries for three innovative ice cream flavors created by Salt & Straw, the sale of which will directly benefit our produce recovery work. Flavors available through June!

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L-R: Salt-Cured Backyard Citrus Creamsicle, Food Forward’s Top of the Beet, Whey-Preserved Strawberries

 

Food Forward is thrilled to partner with small-batch ice cream purveyor, Salt & Straw, for a June Rescued Food Series!

The June flavor series was brought to life through the collaborative efforts of the Salt & Straw and Food Forward teams, bringing one-of-a-kind concoctions made from reclaimed foods. “The fact that we waste 40% of our food in the United States while there are families and children not getting the food they need is a horrific reality and something that all of us in the food industry need to focus on changing. This ice cream menu is our little soapbox to talk about this issue and start showing creative ways to combat this problem. We’re using excess ingredients around our cities in super unique ways, such as using spent grains from local breweries like Three Weavers, ugly farm vegetables, and leftover breads from local grocery stores,” said Salt & Straw head ice cream maker Tyler Malek. “More importantly, I get to work alongside non-profits like Food Forward who are making a significant change in Los Angeles. We wanted to put these incredible agencies in the spotlight, tell their story, and see if we can get our customers and the community at large to be more aware of and supportive of these organizations and the tireless work that they’re doing.”

Here in the U.S., a vast majority of the food supply that goes in the trash is made up of surplus, edible ingredients that could help reduce hunger in our most vulnerable communities. “From our very first conversation, Tyler and I clicked about creating ice cream flavors which actually tell the story of the interlocking and urgent issues Food Forward works so hard to address: eradicating food waste and feeding the hungry. We are thrilled to find such creative, generous and innovative partners with Salt + Straw and can’t wait to roll out the wasted menu!” shared Rick Nahmias, Founder & Executive Director at Food Forward.

 

Food Forward sourced the fruits and vegetables for three of this month’s flavors, the proceeds of which will be directly donated to our produce recovery programs.

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Whey-Preserved Strawberries

Food Forward works with larger California farmers to reduce waste in the fields, and connected Salt & Straw with a farmer in Oxnard with a few extra pallets of extra-ripe strawberries. After trimming the stems, we soak them in surplus whey to continue breaking them down and bring out their jammiest berriness. We blend the resulting super-strawberry preserve with cream and sugar for a berry ice cream unlike any other.

Food Forward’s Top of the Beet

When many shoppers buy beets at the farmers market, they leave the tasty greens behind, so we created a flavor to showcase those lush tops! We worked with Food Forward’s Farmers Market Recovery Program to offer a drop-off point for farmers heading to the market—stopping at our kitchen to unload their greens before setting up shop for LA’s locavores. We cook down the stems into a jam with lemon and sherry vinegar, which gets added along with a crunchy sugar brittle made with the dehydrated beet leaves, into our lightly spiced salt and pepper ice cream.

Salt-Cured Backyard Citrus Creamsicle

Backyard fruit trees around Southern California are testaments to the golden age of the citrus industry—but much of the ripe fruit goes to waste, which is why Food Forward orchestrates over 750 backyard harvests every year. We sliced up a bright and juicy haul of backyard citrus—oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and limes—and leave them covered in salt for at least three days. This breaks down any bitterness and brings out a pure citrus essence, the perfect base of a sweet and salty marmalade that we fold into vanilla ice cream.

Also available as part of the series are Three Weavers’ Spent Grain with Blackberry Fig Jam and Greenbar Distillery’s Gin Spices & Tonic.

 

Find the flavors at LA Salt & Straw locations:

240 N. Larchmont Blvd., Los Angeles, CA – (323) 466-0485
1357 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA – (310) 310-8429
12180 ½ Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles, CA – (818) 358-2890
829 E. 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA – (213) 988-7070
8949 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA – (424) 288-4818 

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Getting to know her neighborhood trees

May 25th, 2017

5.25.17 – Annette first came onto the Food Forward scene in December of 2016 after moving to SoCal from Oregon. In the short time she has been up a tree with us, Annette has led an incredible 43 events (that’s about 7 harvests per month!!) and harvested thousands of pounds of fresh fruit all over the San Gabriel Valley. Annette will be leading the first harvest of the season at the Huntington Gardens on June 3rd so if you’re planning on attending this most fruitastic event, don’t forget to say hello!

Annette Feature Image

How did you get started with Food Forward?

I had recently moved here and wanted to volunteer in my community. I was actually having a hard time finding a good match close by until I stumbled upon Food Forward and signed up. I am a sucker for a good story, and Food Forward has a great grassroots beginning that is very inspiring. I was impressed with the amount of food rescued and the different programs developed to do this. I also liked that FF had built relationships with local food justice organizations to ensure that food was getting efficiently distributed to the folks that needed it.

I signed up for a backyard harvest and I was very excited to pick citrus fruit because I had never done it before. I was greeted by a very nice couple, who told me about all about Food Forward and the backyard harvest program. It turned out I was speaking to Gunther, the harvest coordinator for SGV, and his wife. Before I could fill my first box with fruit Gunther had me signed up for the next pick leader training.

What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?

I volunteer with the backyard harvest program and do most of my picks in the San Gabriel Valley. It has been a great way to get to know this area and connect with the community. I love to forage and glean and so being outside picking fruit is probably my favorite part.

I’ve learned more about the local fruit trees and their growing seasons, which has helped me to gain a greater appreciation of where I live. The number of pickers and frequency of their volunteer hours is heartening. There are many people who care about the community and are willing to donate their time and resources. I believe that the tangibility of picking fruit—people actually having it in their hands—confirms and strengthens the mission of Food Forward.

I’ve learned more about the local fruit trees and their growing seasons, which has helped me to gain a greater appreciation of where I live.

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

There have been many moments but the most powerful ones are discovering the homeowner’s personal connection to the Food Forward mission. The stories often begin with the fruit trees and then threads through a historical perspective of their neighborhoods and personal journeys to arrive at opening their homes to enthusiastic fruit pickers.

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

In my new home of Pasadena, I spend time in my garden, hanging out with my chickens, and exploring the mountains nearby. The flora and fauna of the Angeles National Forest are beautiful! I still have community roots in both Alaska and Oregon where I spend time part of the year. In Alaska, I work for a kayak guiding company where I lead trips through the Tongass National Forest. In Oregon, I help organize community events for a non-profit river advocacy organization.

Any words of wisdom you live by?

Be kind. Be open. Listen well. Look often for the invisible.

Annette with her Chicken

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Stamp Out Hunger in the San Fernando Valley

May 3rd, 2017

5.3.17 – If your Stamp Out Hunger bag hasn’t arrived in the mail yet, you may not have remembered that it’s just around the corner! This year’s food drive will be on May 13th, and we hope that you can help us Stamp Out Hunger in the San Fernando Valley and across Southern California.

Volunteer at Stamp Out Hunger!

What is Stamp Out Hunger?

Stamp Out Hunger is an annual food drive run by the National Association of Letter Carriers. It takes place on the second Saturday of May, when postal workers collect non-perishable food items from people in 10,000 cities and towns across the United States, and deliver it to nearby food banks and pantries.

You may have seen the familiar Stamp Out Hunger bags, which NALC delivers to residences in the week leading up to the event, but the fact is that postal service employees will collect donations of food in any bag (or even a box!). Each post office partners with a local food bank or pantry to deliver the food collected locally.

Volunteers collect donations at Stamp Out Hunger

How Did Stamp Out Hunger Get Started?

Stamp Out Hunger has collected over 1 billion pounds since it started over 25 years ago, in 1991. It is an AMAZING example of collaboration between labor unions, government, and the nonprofit sector. The first Stamp Out Hunger drive came out of a discussion between leaders representing the United States Postal Service, the National Association of Letter Carriers (the union of USPS employees), and the AFL-CIO (the federal organization of labor unions), who piloted a drive in 10 cities across the US.

Though the first drive took place in October, nonprofit leaders convinced the NALC to move it to late spring, when holiday period donations tend to run out and leave food banks and pantries in need of extra sources of food for clients. The first spring-time Stamp Out Hunger drive, in May of 1993, set a record for the greatest amount of food ever collected in one day in the United States.

How can you participate?

You can donate by placing non-perishable food items in a container and leaving it by your mailbox on Saturday, May 13th, before your regular USPS delivery and pick-up time (they suggest having all food out by 9 am to be safe). AND, if you want to volunteer that Saturday, we’d love to have you join us! We’ll be at the Van Nuys Post Office, sorting and boxing donations of food that will all be delivered to MEND Poverty in Pacoima.

Volunteer at Stamp Out Hunger!

Volunteer at Stamp Out Hunger in Van Nuys

What happens to the food?

Each Post Office that participates in Stamp Out Hunger works with a local food bank or pantry that is able to accept the donations of non-perishables and get it to folks within that community. Much of the food donated in the San Fernando Valley will go to MEND Poverty, one of our incredible partner Receiving Agencies, who provides food and an enormous range of other services to tens of thousands of clients every month.

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Taking Food Waste Off the Menu

April 28th, 2017

4.28.17 – Today is the first National Stop Food Waste Day! Food Forward works to fight food waste all year long and we are always eager to support initiatives that spotlight this serious issue, like Feeding the 5000 Los Angeles on May 4th, 2017.

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Hosted by Feedback as part of the Los Angeles Times ‘Food Bowl’ festival, Feeding the 5000 LA will prove that while there’s no shortage of delicious food in the City of Angels, there’s plenty to do to take food waste off the menu. It is estimated 40% of food across the US is wasted. While food – and water – is thrown away in vast quantities, Los Angeles also has the largest population of food insecure people in the United States.

To spotlight the issue of food waste, and its massive climate and environmental impacts, organizations across LA are coming together on Thursday, May 4th in Pershing Square for a festival which invites thousands to a delicious meal made from top quality ingredients that would otherwise have gone to waste.

 

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Paella made from food that would have been wasted at the Feeding the 5000 event in Washington DC

 

Food Forward is proud to contribute to the Feeding the 5000 meal by supplying fruits and vegetables recovered by our Wholesale Recovery Program. The Wholesale Recovery Program works out of the Downtown Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market, the second largest wholesale market in the country. With huge amounts of produce comes huge amounts of waste, and the Food Forward staff steps in, just in time, to divert fresh, healthy food to the people in our community who need it most. In 2016 alone, this program ensured 13.7 million pounds of fresh produce was donated to local hunger relief agencies across eight Southern California counties.

Also taking part in the Feeding the 5000 event are The L.A. Kitchen, who will be preparing the meal, and some of the local anti-hunger groups that Food Forward works with: Swipe Out Hunger, HALA, Downtown Women’s Center, Food Finders, PATH, LAHSA, and Skid Row Housing Trust.

This event is open to everyone! Please RSVP on the Facebook page and invite your friends!

 

RSVP HERE!

 

If you are interested in volunteering with the Feeding the 5000 meal preparation, visit Feedback’s website.

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Making an Impact at the Market

April 24th, 2017

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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Celebrating Earth Day

April 17th, 2017

4.17.17 – Happy Earth Day Week! Recognized as a day to demonstrate support for environmental protection, Earth Day falls on April 22nd and is celebrated in 193 countries. How do you show your commitment to clean land, air, and water?

How did Earth Day get its start?

Inspired by the student anti-war movement and the devastating effects of the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, Wisconsin Senator Gaylor Nelson proposed a “national teach-in on the environment”  held on April 22, 1970. That first Earth Day, thousands of colleges and universities and 20 million people demonstrated against the deterioration of the environment. This led to the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts. Earth Day has since grown into a global day of action, observed in 193 countries, focused on raising awareness about environmental issues and advocating change.

 

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How can you contribute?

Here are some tips on how you can recognize Earth Day this week and year-round!

Mind your water usage: Don’t forget to turn of the faucet while brushing your teeth, keep showers short and fix leaky pipes.

Avoid plastic: Filtering water is a less expensive and more environmentally friendly alternative to buying water bottles.

Recycle: Recycling one soda can saves enough energy to run your television for three hours. Not sure what you can recycle? Check out this helpful guide.

Walk or bike: Walking and biking are healthier ways to get to your destination and helps to cut down on greenhouse gases.

Volunteer: Join Food Forward at a fruit pick or farmers market glean to fight food waste!

 

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Photo by Carolina Korman Photography

Food Forward will be celebrating all week! Join us at one of these Earth Day events:

Monday, 4/17: Santa Monica College Students Feeding Students Pop-Up Farmers Market, 11am-12:30pm

Saturday, 4/22: Diamond Bar Earth Day Festival, 9am-2pm

Thursday, 4/27: Pasadena City College Earth Week, 10am-2pm

Saturday, 4/29: CSUN Matadome Family Earth Day Celebration,10am-2pm.

 

Learn more about Earth Day:

http://www.earthday.org/

https://www.epa.gov/earthday

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Day

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Solutions for Hunger on College Campuses: Live Online Summit

April 11th, 2017

Food Forward and RESULTS LA will host the Summit on Food Recovery on April 29, 2017 to address hunger and food insecurity impacting college students.

Solutions for Hunger on College Campuses Brochure

Summit On Food Recovery

Solutions for Hunger on College Campuses

Food Forward  and RESULTS LA are co-hosting the first ever Summit on Food Recovery: Solutions for Hunger on College Campuses, at USC on April 29, 2017 from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The summit is open to students, college faculty, food pantry managers, and community members who are interested in learning more about the issues college students face around hunger and food insecurity, and we want you to join us! We’ll be live-streaming the event all day for those who aren’t able to attend in person. Register for tickets or join us online:

Join the Summit Online!

Food Insecurity on College Campuses

A recent study by The Kresge Foundation found that 1 in 3 community college students in the US face food insecurity and approximately 14% of community college students are homeless. In California, a 2016 study indicates almost 1 in 4 students enrolled at a California State University reported food insecurity and nearly 12% are homeless or reported housing displacement.

About the Summit

The Summit on Food Recovery: Solutions for Hunger on College Campuses will address the critical hunger issues faced by students and help colleges develop programs and connections for how they can improve food access for students.

Topics will include hunger on college campuses, key components to successful food recovery, and different models of food distribution and engagement.

Join the Summit Online!

Pop-up Farmers Market at Santa Monica College

Free Student Farmers Market

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From Santa Monica to Mid City: A Farm to Table Story

April 4th, 2017

4.4.17 – One of the best parts of our job is being able to support so many amazing hunger-relief agencies. Mirna, our wonderful Farmers Market Recovery Program Assitant from Mount Saint Mary’s University, sums up her recent journey to one of Food Forward’s Receiving Agencies.

Mirna at the Santa Monica Wednesday Farmers Market

“It may not be a complete solution but it definitely is a Band-Aid for food waste.” – Hank Brehman, Food Forward Glean Team Leader

Farmers Market Recovery and Receiving Agencies

The Farmers Market Recovery (FMR) program began in Santa Monica in 2012. The idea was to get fresh produce that farmers had left over and give it to low-income communities. Food Forward now gleans all over Los Angeles and has many different receiving agencies. Receiving agencies are non-profit organizations that use the produce to either make meals or distribute it to low-income communities or anyone in need.

One receiving agency that gets produce from the Santa Monica Farmers Market on Wednesdays is Groceryships. Groceryships helps hungry families that want to eat healthier but do not have the funds to buy fresh produce. Los Angeles is filled with cheap fast food at every corner, but what about cheap healthy food? Groceryships is filling this gap. Groceryships teaches mothers and fathers skills to help their family eat more fruits, vegetables, grains and other healthful, plant-based foods. They offer them nutrition education, healthy cooking classes, on-call nutritionists, and appliances.

At the Santa Monica Wednesday Farmers Market

The Santa Monica Wednesday Farmers Market (at Arizona and 2nd Street) is a huge market that goes on during the day. From noon until 2:30 pm, Food Forward volunteers team up to collect fresh produce from the farmers. These “Glean Teams” are essential parts of Food Forward’s food recovery efforts.

Volunteers at the Santa Monica Market

A Glean Team Leader (GTL) is a “super volunteer” that began as a regular volunteer at the market and now runs the show. The GTL is the one in charge of informing the new volunteers of their roles at the farmers markets. Once the volunteers are ready to go, they walk through the market with empty boxes for the vendors. Depending on how much extra produce each vendor has, the volunteers assemble the boxes and give each vendor the number of boxes they need. At the Santa Monica Wednesday market, nearly all of the vendors participate in the Farmers Market Recovery Program throughout the year; some may donate more in the winter and some may donate more in the summer, depending on the seasonality of the produce they grow.

Towards the end, volunteers go back around and gather the boxes that are now filled with food, and take them to the GTL so they can get weighed and then distributed to the Receiving Agencies. On the day I was there, February 15, 2017, we collected1,256 lbs in total.

Food Forward Boxes Filled with Produce

Groceryships

Groceryships received 321 lbs worth of fresh produce that day: lettuce, cauliflower, carrots, oranges, bread, and much more!

I met with Yolo and Andrea, who are team leaders at Groceryships and who taught the cooking class that day. About 6 mothers came in, and brought their children along with them. Yolo started off by stating Groceryships’ mission, then asked the mothers how their week went and what they made with the produce they had received the previous week. The mothers were thankful for what they had received, and for what they were going to learn that day.

Food Forward's Visit to Groceryships

Yolo took some spinach and made a soup out of it. Step by step, she let the mothers know what she was doing with the produce. She made a delicious soup that I was able to try. After the class was over, the mothers, one by one, got out their grocery bags and lined up to get produce from the boxes that we had collected at the farmers market. Everyone went home happy, and I went home with new information about Groceryships.  

Groceryships is located in Mid-City, where there is little access to healthy food. Groceryships not only gives low-income families fresh produce, but teaches them how to cook it. The mothers only take the produce they know they are going to use and eat by the end of the week. It was heartwarming to know that the produce being collected at the Farmers Markets is going to good use.

Food Forward is putting a band-aid on food waste every week, while fulfilling their mission in giving back to low-income communities.
Food Forward Produce Donation

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