Update: The Produce Pit Stop opens June 20!

June 13th, 2019

Rick Nahmias shares his reflections on the road to the Produce Pit Stop, from receiving our first government grant to fund the project, to signing a lease after a long search for the right space, to the opening next week!

The Produce Pit Stop’s colorful entryway, with signpainting by the talented Remy Chwae (@sign_gal)

It’s amazing what a few months of juice, sweat, and elbow grease can do for a beautiful but dusty 1920’s warehouse…

In March of 2018, we got word that Food Forward had been awarded a major grant from CalRecycle to supply the anchor funding needed to open a cross-docking warehouse with large-scale refrigeration, which would enable us to build out the capacity of our Wholesale Recovery Program. From nearly day one, the “baby” of Food Forward’s three produce recovery programs had been struggling under the weight of its own success, sadly turning away many pallets of beautiful fresh produce donations every month. With our trucks already full of donations, and without a refrigerated space to temporarily store them while we coordinated hand-offs with the hundreds of agencies that we serve, these pallets were destined for the dumpster.

 

Food Forward’s expanded capacity due to the Pit Stop will enable us to rescue more perfectly good food from the Wholesale Market. 

We toasted the CalRecycle award (which was also our biggest single gift ever), then took a deep collective breath and buckled down to an ambitious work plan, while simultaneously raising the remaining funds needed to make the warehouse a reality. The first step was setting off on a massive real estate hunt. How hard could it be to find a 5-10,000 square foot warehouse in or near the Produce District of DTLA? VERY hard, it’d turn out. Eight months and almost 80 properties later, we found and kissed the frog that became Food Forward’s Produce Pit Stop: a massive, mothballed 1920’s Air Force storage facility with 30-foot wooden bow & truss ceilings. The Produce Pit Stop is located on The Salvation Army’s Bell Shelter campus, an oasis of state-of-the-art dignified social services in an otherwise nondescript industrial stretch of South East LA (straddling the Bell/Huntington Park/Vernon area.) We signed the lease on January 17 of this year—our tenth anniversary—and renovations began.

Learn more about the Produce Pit Stop here.

 

A panorama shows the scale of the 6,000 square foot warehouse, complete with new offices for the Wholesale team.

We traded proximity to the produce market (though it’s still only 15 minutes away) for proximity to a number of our high-impact receiving agencies and communities of need. The Pit Stop is within the center of the Salvation Army’s SoCal hub of activity—the Bell Shelter is the largest homeless shelter west of the Mississippi and feeds 500+ people daily. Paired with neighbors Grow Good Farm, a regenerative urban farm that provides produce and employment training for Bell Shelter residents, we saw an immediate synergy.

From February until this week, just days before cutting the ribbon to the facility, walls have been moved, electrical systems upgraded, loading docks updated, work flows re-architected, and a refrigerator bigger than my home was installed. And while the Produce Pit Stop is indeed a cross-docking depot with the modern conveniences we’ve existed without for our entire first decade, we will not be abandoning the “just-in-time” rescue operations we have become nationally known for. The refrigerator will allow us to store over 80 pallets (or approximately 125,000 pounds) of produce at any given time, which will impact our logistics operations while still allowing us to remain nimble and serve small, medium and large agencies across the entire region—and beyond. No matter how you look at it, Food Forward’s Produce Pit Stop represents a whole new chapter for us, for healthy food recovery in Southern California, and for the two million food insecure individuals who have come to rely on our free, fresh produce.

 

Food Forward’s Technology & Engagement Manager, Joe, stands in the vast refrigerator!

After five months of renovations, we are now ready to roll out full-scale operations at the Pit Stop and expect the facility to boost our Wholesale Recovery Program’s overall donations by 50% over the next two years. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of produce have already already flown through the space in tests and dry runs, and there are still a few loose ends to tie up. More details and blog posts will follow as the beast gets up to speed, but our next set of tasks is getting ready for the big unveiling on June 20th, when community partners and civic leaders join us for a ribbon cutting. As usual, all hands are on deck—but we wouldn’t have it any other way!

 

Best,
Rick Nahmias
Founder/Executive Director

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The LA Food Bowl is back!

April 18th, 2019

For the third year in a row, Food Forward is an official charity partner of the Los Angeles Times Food Bowl happening throughout May. The citywide festival features hundreds of events across Los Angeles including exclusive dinners, talks, pop-ups, tours, classes, and volunteer events.

Here is where you can find Food Forward during the festivities!

 

May 19, 2019
Regenerate and Rejuvenate
with porridge + puffs and Food Forward

Details: Chef Minh Phan of Porridge + Puffs is collaborating with her favorite young chefs to offer a sneak peek into L.A.’s future. This interactive dinner will focus on “wasted” ingredients woven into each up-and-coming chef’s narrative and reflection. Proceeds will support Food Forward’s efforts to fight hunger and reduce food waste by redistributing surplus produce to more than 1.75 million Southern Californians this year.

GET TICKETS!

 

For more information, visit lafoodbowl.com

 

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Thank you, volunteers!

April 11th, 2019

It’s Volunteer Appreciation Week, so we’re sharing the reasons we love our volunteers!

“Volunteers aren’t just the backbone of our organization. They are the heart, the legs, the eyes, and the soul of what we do. They are the patterns weaved into the fabric of everything this organization has grown to be.” – Jason Reedy, Farmers Market Program Manager

 

 

It’s Volunteer Appreciation Week! Food Forward began as a group of volunteers solving a problem in their community, and has grown into an organization which serves millions of people with the help of thousands of volunteers. The ability of Food Forward to grow and develop new food recovery models is dependent on the dedicated and caring people who volunteer their time with us. And it’s a big community—last year alone, over 4,000 people in Los Angeles and Ventura counties supported Food Forward’s work at 2,280 volunteer-powered events! Volunteers gleaned surplus fruits and vegetables with us at farmers markets, picked fruit from backyard trees and orchards, and helped us distribute food at our Produce Pick-Up events.

 

“I like that it so tangible, pick and give immediately. It’s a great sense of accomplishment and making a difference.” – Kathy Schaeffer, Pick Leader & Glean Team Leader

 

 

Food Forward is able to recover all this food because of our volunteers, but we also rely on volunteers to lead our events! We are lucky to have a dedicated team of “Super Volunteers” who lead farmers market gleans and backyard harvest events. These folks train with Food Forward and lead at least one event a month, but many lead every week, sometimes even several times in a week. They represent Food Forward out in the community and connect us to new volunteers and produce donors. Plus, they are genuinely caring people who go the extra mile to make a difference in their community.

 

“We are so fortunate to have the most amazing volunteers. The people I’ve met through the Backyard Harvest Program have become friends, mentors and wonderful examples of how to live a fulfilling life having fun, while helping others!” – Samantha Teslik, Harvest & Education Manager

 

 

Food Forward volunteers are caring, friendly, compassionate, roll-up-your-sleeves people. They are always willing to help out in a pinch and eager to connect more people to our mission and work. One week isn’t enough to express our gratitude for our volunteers—they’re just that amazing! Thank you to all our volunteers, we couldn’t do what we do without you.

 

“Volunteering is like voting. By showing up to make a difference, you are voting on the community you want to live in. Thank you for your votes!” – Adrienne Roellgen, Accounting & HR Assistant

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Making a difference starts at home

March 21st, 2019

Meet our Volunteer of the Month, Christina Alvarez-Novoa! Christina is our intern for the Ventura County branch, and has been a great asset to the team. Earlier this month, she jumped right in and led an event (by herself), where her and the volunteers harvested 1,040 pounds of citrus! Christina has also volunteered at multiple other BYH and FMR events and has helped in the office in countless ways. Thanks Christina!

So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?
About 6 months ago I applied to the HLI internship program at CSUCI. This program helps CI students find great matches to a field in our major in hope of getting real life experience. I got accepted to the program and I recall I said I wanted to get partnered with a nonprofit organization who gave back to the community. Next thing I know I was getting started in my internship with Food Forward. It was like destiny—I did not know what to expect but ended up where I belonged.

What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?
Although I have never experienced the suffering of hunger, my parents had a rough childhood in which they lacked the necessities of life, including food. I grew up in a household where food is sacred and being wasteful was not an option. My father has a small catering business, at the end of every workday he would give away the leftover food to those in need. My father had experienced the hardships of hunger and of extreme poverty and taught me not to be wasteful. Food Forward’s mission uses the same approach to life that I learned as a child, so being part of this organization really completes my desire of making a difference. Hunger is something that nobody should experience, and it is unacceptable when we have such an abundance of food. Food Forward works to solve two global issues—hunger and food waste—at the same time, which is amazing to be a part of.

 

 

What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
I am a full-time student at CSUCI, so when I am not volunteering, I am at school most of the time. When I go back home, I love to spend time with my family and my two dogs. On the weekends I like to go kayaking at the Channel Island harbor and walking at the beach.

What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?
My favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward is that I know that every piece of fruit we pick is making a difference in someone’s life. Every piece of fruit someone gets to eat is one less person that has to worry about food. I like that all the donations go to local food banks because we know we are making a difference starting within our own community.

How would you describe the volunteer experience at a harvest?
It is a new experience every time. It is great because every volunteer is there because they want to be, and it creates a great environment for volunteering. I love to hear the stories about the people and how they came across Food Forward. It’s an experience that brings a lot of joy no matter which way you see it.

What was your first volunteer day like?
My first time volunteering was at a harvest in Fillmore and it was raining! Well, the weather was sunshine, then some rain, then some sunshine so it was a day full of unexpected weather. I had never picked navel oranges but was easy to learn. There was so much fruit in the trees that when the time was up I did not want to stop picking because I wanted to donate it all! That day we picked over 86 boxes and then returned to the property to pick it once more.

 

 

What have you learned from volunteering?
I have learned that there are so many people willing to come together with Food Forward because we are all working towards the same cause. We all want a better society and recognize the importance and the power that a single person has in making a positive impact.

Is there a particularly powerful volunteering moment you’d like to share?
I think every time that I hear a story from our receiving agencies about how happy the people receiving the fruit is a powerful moment. Just last week one of our receiving agencies told us that once she gets to where she distributes the produce, there is a long line of people happily waiting for the food. Hearing stories of the joy we bring to others really is something special, knowing we are making a difference.

Any words of wisdom you live by?
It only takes one simple act of kindness to change someone’s life.

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Accelerating food access with AHA Teaching Gardens

March 20th, 2019

Food Forward works with many amazing organizations working to fight food insecurity in our communities. We’d like to highlight one of these organizations, the American Heart Association Teaching Gardens program, and tell you a bit about our partnership.

 

 

Based at structurally under-resourced schools throughout the U.S., Teaching Gardens assists families in accessing fresh produce. Teaching Gardens provides schools with the tools to grow fresh fruits and veggies in campus gardens, and encourages students to select their own seeds to meet their unique interests and tastes. The program aims to create “real-life learning laboratories for students to learn what it means to be healthy.” There are over 50 teaching gardens in schools across the country that are connecting students to fresh produce and garden education.

 

Here in Los Angeles, the Teaching Gardens Program provides community members with fresh produce at free farmers markets throughout South and East LA, rescued by Food Forward’s Wholesale Recovery Program. AHA envisions a world free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, and knows that a healthy, fresh, and colorful diet is important for heart health.

 

According to Matthew Gallimore, Community Impact Director for School Systems, AHA’s partnership with Food Forward has “accelerated our food access work by offering monthly produce giveaways at our local schools and parks. When we first started offering produce giveaways at our schools, we were only able to offer it once every 2 months due to the time it took for crops to grow. Now, we are offering it twice a month in over 5 schools and 2 parks throughout South and East LA to help address the needs of the community.”

 

 

 

We hope you enjoyed learning about our partnership with AHA Teaching Gardens and the amazing work they are doing to connect students to healthy foods!

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9 Organizations fighting for Food Justice in Southern California

March 8th, 2019

Here in Southern California, Food Forward is lucky to be one of many organizations who are working towards a better food system. Given that 1 in 9 residents in LA County is food insecure, and with many areas in Southern California classified as food deserts, it’s no surprise that many organizations have formed to improve access to nutritious food. From gardening education to food recovery to community health, read on for information about some of Southern California’s food justice organizations.

 

1. Seeds of Hope:

Seeds of Hope is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles which seeks to help congregations, communities, and schools turn unused land into productive gardens and orchards to provide healthy and fresh food in areas of need across the county. Seeds of Hope looks to create and sustain gardens and garden-based programs throughout the Diocese of Los Angeles to promote physical and spiritual wellness for individuals and communities.

 

The LA Food Policy council convenes regional stakeholders for working groups and trainings.

 

2. Los Angeles Food Policy Council

The Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC) works to ensure food is healthy, affordable, fair and sustainable for all. The Los Angeles Food Policy Council serves as backbone organization for a network of over 400 organizations and agencies working for healthy, sustainable and fair food. Growing from the collective impact model, we are making transformative change in the following ways:

-We cultivate a diverse network of change makers from across our food system, from farm to fork and beyond, through cross-sector working groups, network events and other civic engagement activities.
-We provide strategic guidance to our stakeholder network through facilitation, research, policy development and training.
-We translate collaboration into policy outcomes, and help incubate, launch and lead food system initiatives.

 

3. LA Compost

We are a network of community composters maintaining compost hubs throughout LA County. Our team of educators and soil enthusiasts build and facilitate cohesive composting communities for individuals and communities in shared spaces. LA Compost is both the compost hub and the people that contribute to composting in LA. The healthy soil that is created by a community compost hub stays in the community and is used locally to enrich the soil in the neighborhood in which it was created.  

 

FEAST hosts classes which teach cooking and nutrition, and provides fresh produce to participants. 

 

4. FEAST

At FEAST, we believe that a healthy life has three main ingredients: whole foods, whole people and whole communities. However, we live in a world where many people lack access to basic, healthy fresh affordable foods, and where many more feel isolated from one another. To address these issues, FEAST provides: 

-Food education: Each week, we host nutritional discussions and provide recipes and cooking demonstrations to make healthy eating satisfying, affordable and delicious.
-Access: In each class, we provide free and immediate access to fresh, whole foods through a food scholarship, enabling families to experiment with healthy recipes at home.
-Support, together: Each week, we host nutritional discussions and provide recipes and cooking demonstrations to make healthy eating satisfying, affordable, and delicious.

 

5. Food Finders

Food Finders is a multi-regional food bank and food rescue program headquartered in Lakewood, CA.  We pick up donated food from hundreds of local grocery stores, bakeries, restaurants and produce markets and distribute it directly to missions, shelters and social service agencies that feed the needy and impoverished. Our volunteers and staff drivers pick up and deliver on a same-day basis.  On average, Food Finders helps provide enough food for 22,000 meals a day, reducing the amount of food insecurity and food waste prevalent throughout Southern California where we serve.

 

The Garden School Foundation has established educational gardens and nutritional programs in seven schools in Los Angeles.

 

6. Garden School Foundation

Garden School Foundation provides in-depth garden-based education to youth at Title I schools in Los Angeles, strengthening connections between food justice, environmental awareness, and community health. (Title I schools are those with large concentrations of low-income students.) By using the full transformative potential of school gardens as teaching sites, we nurture a healthy and mindful generation of children that care for their bodies, their communities, and the earth. We currently serve seven Title I elementary schools, reaching over 3,000 students and their families each year.

 

7. Social Justice Learning Institute

At the Social Justice Learning Institute (SJLI), we are dedicated to improving the education, health, and well being of youth and communities of color by empowering them to enact social change through research, training, and community mobilization.

Health Equity initiatives at SJLI include Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL), nutritional education provides community members with opportunities to expand their knowledge, understanding, and access to healthy living activities.

 

Food Recovery Network supports food recovery chapters at colleges and universities. 

 

8. Food Recovery Network

Food Recovery Network is a national nonprofit that unites students at colleges and universities to fight food waste and hunger by recovering perishable food that would otherwise go to waste from their campus dining halls and donating it to those in need. Our goal is to change the norm from food waste to food recovery in the United States. Today, we’re the largest student movement fighting against food waste and hunger and have recovered and donated more than 3 million pounds of food that otherwise would have gone to waste. 

Southern California chapters include CSU Dominguez Hills, Claremont McKenna College, CSU Northridge, Occidental College, Pepperdine University, UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego, and more!

 

9. Riverside Food Systems Alliance:

The Riverside Food Systems Alliance (RFSA) promotes education, networking and advocacy for a resilient “food system”; that is, everyone and everything involved in the flow of food from regional farms to Inland tables.

Core priorities include:
-Supporting farms of all sizes to preserve land best suited to farming.
-Building a food system that ensures a dynamic local farm-to-fork network.
-Creating sustainable growth in the food sector, with good jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurs.
-Building community around food and community health.
-Educating, inspiring, and sustaining demand by fostering conversations that promote consumption of local food.
-Ensuring access for all to quality, naturally grown local food.

 

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From frequent gleaner to Glean Team Leader!

February 20th, 2019

Meet our Volunteer of the Month for February, Oscar Zapata! He’s been volunteering with us for almost 3 years now and always signs up right away to lead the Larchmont market, about 2-3 times a month. He’s super enthusiastic, and we can count on him to take photos of the glean, keep us posted on any changes, and tell us any ideas he has to improve the glean. Oscar also recently told us to let him know if we ever needed someone to lead a glean in Spanish!

 

Oscar always takes ah-mazing pictures at the Larchmont Farmers Market Glean! 

 

So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?
I was trying to find a way to give back to my community and somehow help others, so I started to research volunteering opportunities when I found the website for LA Works. After checking a few websites I found Food Forward’s mission and all the things they do help many types of people in different communities great, and Food Forward also has a super friendly and easy to navigate website!

 

What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?
I think hunger is one of the worst feelings that someone can experience, and having so much food going to waste every day is unacceptable knowing that there are a lot of people that go to sleep with this feeling. That’s why I think what Food Forward does is very important and for me it’s something big that benefits everyone involved.

 

What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
I work in a private college where the student body is majority formed by international students, and, as a former international student myself from Colombia, I understand how important is to have support when you come to the US from another country. I help them in the student service office and the education department.

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?
Besides knowing that just investing a little of your time can have such a huge impact in someone else’s life and community, the bonds that you start to create with the people that you meet on every step of the glean is part of what makes this experience great in general.

 

How would you describe the volunteer experience at a market?
It’s just great to get to know the farmers and enjoy an outside activity while contributing a little bit to bringing food to someone’s table. Plus, every time I discover a new vegetable or fruit that I’ve never seen before, which I find very interesting and I love, and it’s very nice to get to know the people that you volunteer with and exchange life stories and learn the reasons why they’re doing it.

 

What was your first volunteer day like?
I was very excited because it was the first time I was doing something like this in the US, so I felt like I was going to my first day of class in a new school, and I really didn’t know what to expect. But when I got there the Glean Team Leader (Heidi) was someone that I had taken a class in college with not long before and she just made me feel at home! So it made things easier and smooth! Heidi rocks, and she’s the reason why I kept volunteering at Larchmont every time I could, and now I’m leading the gleans there and it’s amazing!

 

 

Oscar and Heidi (second from right) reunited at a glean a few weeks ago! 

 

What have you learned from volunteering?
That the only thing that you need is the will to put a little grain of sand towards the process to help others. And how valuable your time is—because when you think that less than two hours wouldn’t make any difference in the world and you could just stay at home watching tv instead—you are completely wrong.

 

Is there a particularly powerful volunteering moment you’d like to share?
There’s not one in particular, but I’ve gotten the chance to interact with some of the people and communities that benefit from what we do and it’s a very gratifying feeling to see how happy they are knowing that their families are going to have food on their tables, and it’s good food that otherwise was going to go to waste. This happened to me when I went on a Sunday to LACC after the glean, and when I participated a few times putting together bags of food for the students and families around Inglewood LAUSD.

 

Any words of wisdom you live by?
Be kind and treat others the way you want to be treated.

 

 

 

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Produce of the Month: Alliums!

February 15th, 2019

2.16.19—This month we are highlighting a category of plants that are often overlooked. They’re not that fancy or exciting—despite this, we don’t know how we would cook without them. We are talking, of course, about alliums, the genus that includes onions, garlic, and scallions.

 

Background & History

Alliums have been cultivated as food for a very long time, and most historians agree that onions have been domesticated for at least 6000 years. Onions and garlic are staples in cultures around the world—they are the basis for many Indian and Asian dishes, and are also frequently found in South and Central American cooking and many European cuisines. This is in part due to the fact that they last for a long time once harvested, making them readily available and easily integrated into the diet.

In certain religious practices, eating garlic and onions is disapproved of. In the Hindu and Jain religions, they are thought to stimulate the body and increase one’s desires. Similarly, in some Buddhist traditions, garlic is thought to stimulate lustful and aggressive drives, thus disrupting the meditation practice. While people today still follow these guidelines, there are also members of these religions who consume alliums.

 

 

Health benefits

Alliums aren’t just tasty, they also have many health benefits! Some studies have shown that consuming garlic, leeks, and onions can reduce the risk of cancer, due to their sulfur-based compounds. Alliums are anti-inflamatory due to their high flavonoid content, and good for cardiovascular health as they prevent blood clot formation and lower blood pressure. Onions are garlic are also anti-bacterial, and have been shown to inhibit the growth of E. Coli and MRSA, or staph bacteria. As a whole, the allium genus of plants are rich in Vitamin C, B vitamins, manganese, iron, and potassium.

 

Why does chopping onions make you cry?

We’ve all experienced the painful sting of chopping onions. So, what’s the cause of that pesky irritation? It’s the result of the onion’s defense mechanism—cutting onions damages its cells, which triggers a chain reaction resulting in the release of syn-propanethial-S-oxide. This gas activates sensory neurons in the eye, causing irritation and prompting the eye to produce tears to flush out the irritant. One way to reduce irritation is to refrigerate onions before you cut them, which slows down the enzyme reaction rate.

 

Recipe

Quick-Pickled Red Onions
Recipe from The Kitchn, by Dana Velden. Vegan and gluten-free.

Pickled red onions are easy to make and super versatile! They add flavor and texture to sandwiches, salads, tacos, and more.

 

 

Makes about 2 cups.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium red onion, about 5 ounces
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar, white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar

Flavorings (optional)

  • 1 small clove of garlic, peeled and halved
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 5 allspice berries
  • 3 small sprigs of thyme
  • 1 small dried chili

Instructions

  1. Slice the onions: Start 2 or 3 cups of water on to boil in a kettle. Peel and thinly slice the onion into approximately 1/4-inch moons. 
  2. Dissolve the sugar and salt: In the container you will be using to store the onions, add the sugar, salt, vinegar, and flavorings. Stir to dissolve.
  3. Par-blanch the onions: Place the onions in the sieve and place the sieve in the sink. Slowly pour the boiling water over the onions and let them drain.
  4. Add the onions to the jar: Add the onions to the jar and stir gently to evenly distribute the flavorings.
  5. Store: The onions will be ready in about 30 minutes, but are better after a few hours. Store in the refrigerator. They will keep for several weeks, but are best in the first week.
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Making a big impact in a short time

January 25th, 2019

Stephanie joined the Backyard Harvest team in the summer of 2018 and in that short amount of time she has lead 7 harvest events and become a crucial part of the Food Forward’s work in the Central LA region. Stephanie is dependable, great with volunteers, and fun to work with. We want to thank Stephanie for all of her hard work and support these past few months!

 

So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?  
I wanted to use my free time doing something that was not only selfless but had a positive impact on the environment. After sifting through a couple of charities in Los Angeles, I stumbled across Food Forward!


What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?
It was the perfect combination of everything I wanted to do: give back to the community, help with food waste, and be outdoors.


What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
I’m a graphic designer so I try to work on personal projects when I have the time. I also watch Seinfeld at least once a day. And I’ve recently just started volunteering with St. Vincent’s Meals On Wheels!

 

 

What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward? 
I think it has to be being able to spread awareness about Food Forward. I love seeing people’s reactions when I tell them about what FF does because I believe it’s one of the most relevant and necessary organizations in Los Angeles. 

How would you describe the volunteer experience at a harvest?
Everyone is there for different reasons but because we are all sharing the same experience, there is a refreshing sense of camaraderie amongst the volunteers.
 

What was your first volunteer day like?
I really didn’t know what to expect since I had done little to no volunteer work before. I was kind of taken back being in someone’s actual backyard. But what was even more surprising was that the family helped out too. It really didn’t feel like work.

 

What have you learned from volunteering?
It doesn’t take much to make a big impact. Majority of harvests take about 2 hours max. In that 2 hours, we can harvest over 600 lbs. of fruit that would have otherwise been rotting on the floor!

 

 

Is there a particularly powerful volunteering moment you’d like to share?
Nothing yet!

 

Any words of wisdom you live by?
Be kind, be honest, and be yourself.

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2018 Good Food News Roundup

January 18th, 2019

2018 was a big year for Food Forward and a big year in the world of food equity and food waste. The conversation around food waste continues to evolve, and new initiatives were introduced by local and even national governments. The sustainable farming movement is also growing, with plenty of examples of people taking the health of their communities into their own hands. Read on for a roundup of our favorite food news stories from 2018!

 

Vendors march in support of legalizing street vending in Los Angeles.

1. Street vending is legalized in Los Angeles:

After first proposing such legislation five years ago, the LA City Council voted to legalize street vending in November. The movement was led by street vendors themselves, many of whom are women, most of whom are Latino. Organizations like the LA Food Policy Council and SEE-LA, among many others, were vital partners in creating momentum around the issue. Street vendors, who sell food and other merchandise, are often harassed by the police and civilians. The motion to legalize vending offers new protections and regulations, and endorses street vending as an invaluable piece of LA’s food and economic landscape.  

 

At a luxury resort in the Maldives, an employee recycles coconut husks into rope.

2. Resorts across the globe find innovative solutions for food waste:

At luxury hotels and resorts in South America and Southeast Asia, thousands of pounds of food are wasted every day, uneaten by guests. To reduce costs and create ecological benefits, many hotels repurpose this food waste into compost for gardens, cleaning products, or biogas to power their operations. It’s an amazing example of how food can become part of a closed loop system which benefits everyone.

 

Neighbors think outside the box to create their own grocery co-op, Apple Street Market.

3. A Cincinnati community comes together to improve food access

When their local grocery store shut down, people in Cincinnati’s Northside neighborhood worked together to find a solution. These neighbors organized to create Apple Street Market, a unionized community-owned cooperative. For just $100 (or $10 for those who qualify for SNAP, free or reduced lunch, or Medicaid), community members can become owners of the market. It’s a creative and collaborative model that ensures the community has access to healthy food, as well as good-paying jobs with benefits.

 

Leah Penniman (left) and Amani Olugbala grow food for the Albany, NY community on Soul Fire Farm’s 72 acres.

4. A Black farmer improves the health of her community and affirms African roots of modern farming practices:

Today more women, specifically women of color, are leading the sustainable agriculture movement. Leah Penniman owns Soul Fire Farm near Albany, New York, and sells her produce at a sliding scale to Albany neighborhoods which lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Penniman also engages youth groups on her farm, and aims to train Black and Latino people in African farming and land management techniques. Often, the origin of these techniques are not recognized in the mainstream sustainable farming movement, and are misrepresented as European practices. Penniman is one of many farmers who is improving the health of her community through connecting to the land.

 

250 million meals are thrown away in the UK every year–Ben Elliot hopes to change that.

5. Britain appoints a Food Waste Champion to take on discarded meals:

The UK appointed their first Food Surplus and Waste Champion” to tackle the issue of food waste in Britain. Ben Elliot, a philanthropist and businessman, was appointed to the role and will oversee the Food Waste Fund, a £15 million effort to redistribute surplus food. Speaking on his new role, Elliot said that “As a nation, we need to stop this excessive waste and ensure that surplus food finds its way to people in our society who need it most, and not let it get thrown away and go to landfill.” 

 

Volunteers at the Watts Mudtown Free Farmers Market, our collaboration with the WLCAC, pose with fruits and veggies ready to be distributed to community members.

As an organization which works to prevent food waste and provide fruits and vegetables to those experiencing food insecurity, we believe healthy food is a basic human right. We know from our work that there is plenty of food to feed everyone, but barriers to access get in the way. In 2018, we expanded our Produce Pick-Up program and held 31 events to directly distribute free fruits and vegetables to individuals in food deserts. And in 2019, we’re going to keep working to reduce those barriers and create better access to fresh, healthy food. We hope you’ll join us!

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