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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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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Volunteer Event: Harvest for the Hungry at Orcutt Ranch

April 3rd, 2017

Every spring, in our continued work to Harvest Food, Fight Hunger, and Build Community, Food Forward organizes a massive volunteer effort to harvest fruit to donate to local hunger relief agencies. This year we’ll be hosting the event at San Fernando Valley’s historic Orcutt Ranch in West Hills on Sunday, May 21st in conjunction with the Los Angeles Times Food Bowl, and we hope you can join us!

We’ll be bringing out hundreds of volunteers to harvest the fruit from these gorgeous citrus groves, and donating 100% to feed thousands of families across Southern California. Click below to sign up for an early morning or mid-day volunteer shift.

Volunteer from 8 am – 10 am

Volunteer from 11 am – 12:30 pm

Volunteers check in at Harvest

Volunteers receive Orientation

Volunteers at Citrus Harvest

Volunteers Picking Fruit

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How One Leader Became a Lifelong Volunteer

March 27th, 2017

3.27.17 – This month’s Volunteer of the Month, Jorge, started with Food Forward in January 2015 and has become one of our Ventura County Branch’s most stalwart leaders. In the past month alone, Jorge has led harvests, Farmers Market Gleans, and community outreach events. She was instrumental in helping us launch our gleaning program at the Thousand Oaks Farmers Market, leading multiple gleans a month and going above and beyond to fill in for other gleaners. Every time we see Jorge, she has a smile on her face; she is reliable, even-tempered, kind, and super supportive of Food Forward.  We are very blessed to have her on our team.

Jorge, along with our team of volunteers, at the market

How would you describe the volunteer experience at the market?

Volunteering at the markets for me is calming in my hectic life. From meeting the new volunteers, dropping the boxes off, and talking to the vendors, we know that when the market is over, we will have collected pounds and pounds of fresh produce to hand over to our Receiving Agencies. Everyone out there has the same goal: let’s help each other. And, it’s done with smiles and thank yous.

So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?

I went to a welcome lunch at the North Hollywood Office with my friend Lisa Ann. I was introduced to the gang and was taken on an office tour. Hearing from Rick about how he started Food Forward was really inspiring to me. The staff is so passionate about the organization, and what they do in the community and for those in need. It was at that time that I learned about Food Forward, and I was hooked from that moment on.

My first volunteer day was about 3 years ago. I had signed up for a pick with my friend. It was a beautiful day and we were helping feed the hungry. At that point, I knew I’d be a lifer volunteering with Food Forward.

“At that point, I knew I’d be a lifer volunteering with Food Forward.”

What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?

There are so many “favorite” parts of Food Forward for me when I’m volunteering. I enjoy being outside, meeting the new volunteers, and knowing that the work we are doing is really helping people directly in our community. I feel like I’m part of the solution to feed the hungry.

Just recently I went to an event at the Ventura office. I ran into one of the volunteers that started with me at the Ventura market. He remembered me and asked how I was doing after my surgery. I learned that he has become a regular volunteer. That moment, I felt like I’m making a difference, inspiring other volunteers to get more involved with Food Forward.

Jorge with another volunteer team at the market

What have you learned from volunteering?

I have learned that it doesn’t matter how busy I am, it’s always important to give back and help those less fortunate. It’s extremely rewarding and gives me peace of mind.

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

When I’m not volunteering or working my 2 jobs, I tend to my garden, read, and spend time with my husband walking our dog Zucca. We also like to travel: our local favorite is Morro Bay, and our international favorite is Italy.

Any words of wisdom you live by?

Life is hectic, life is short, follow your passion and always remember if you have dark days, there is always someone less fortunate that you. So, volunteer, get outside and make a difference in your community.

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LA Weekly Presents The Essentials 3.26.17

March 20th, 2017



Benefiting Food Forward and curated by LA Weekly’s food critic Besha Rodell, The Essentials signature food and wine festival showcases 50+ of LA’s best restaurants from LA Weekly’s annual 99 Essentials issue. Visit to learn more about the event and to get tickets!

Date: Sunday, March 26, 2017

Time: 2 – 5 pm (VIP hour 1 – 2 pm)

Where: California Market Center; 110 East 9th St; Los Angeles


Get tickets!

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Volunteer Day with Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition

March 13th, 2017

3.13.17 – We took a break from the fruit cave to go volunteer at one of our amazing partner Receiving Agencies.

One of the most rewarding aspects of working for Food Forward is visiting the incredible agencies that receive our recovered produce and connect it to those in need. We love seeing recovered produce reach the communities we serve! Our staff had the opportunity to do our second hands-on volunteer day recently with one of our steadfast partners: Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition.

Volunteer at GWHFC


Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition (GWHFC) is an astounding service organization, continually meeting the nutrition needs of their community. One need look no further than their “perfect attendance” record for evidence of their indomitable spirit: GWHFC has served a nightly meal 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for the last 30 years.

GWHFC has served a nightly meal 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for the last 30 years.

Although it can be hard to source, prep, and serve fresh fruits and veggies on such a large scale, GWHFC does an amazing job making sure that meals served to their clients are fresh and well-balanced! Since we began our partnership in 2012, GWHFC has received 60,000 pounds (or, 240,000 servings) of fresh, local produce from Food Forward’s Farmers Market Recovery and Backyard Harvest programs. Each day, these nutritious fruits and veggies are processed, prepped, cooked, and served to clients of all ages and backgrounds.

Food Forward Volunteer Day

Our Volunteer Day

Food Forward’s staff had the opportunity to volunteer in the tremendous food prep and serving effort that goes on at GWHFC every day. We got to hang out at the new GWHFC service facilities and prep salad, fruit salad, sandwiches to go, and hot entrées (baked chicken with rice or pasta, and more). The delicious meal we helped to assemble was served that night to around 120 clients, who come to GWHFC knowing that they can depend on a healthy, hot meal.

Food Forward felt so lucky to be welcomed with open arms into an organization that put all of our staff’s assorted kitchen skills to good use. Feeding many mouths requires many hands, and we were proud to lend our hands to this organization for the day!

Want to do more? YOU can volunteer with GWHFC too—they need awesome volunteers to keep their meal service running 365 days a year. And, help us get more produce into the hands of amazing agencies like the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition:

Sign Up to Volunteer Today

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A Food Oasis in Los Angeles, and not where you’d expect

March 6th, 2017

3.6.17 – Angelenos looking for places to get, grow, and buy food can find them in this amazing new resource from Food Oasis Los Angeles. Sam Royall, our amazing student intern from Occidental, showcases this digital food systems project.

Where to find produce?

Here at Food Forward, we are often asked if community members can access the produce we harvest at our North Hollywood office. And while we have gleaned over 30,000,000 lbs of produce to date, we donate 100% of this food directly to local food banks, food pantries, and other hunger relief agencies. This means that we don’t distribute food directly, or store any produce on-site.

While you can check-out a list of organizations that receive Food Forward’s gleaned produce here, Food Oasis Los Angeles (FOLA) provides an interactive map illustrating all of the places that you can get fresh food throughout LA County.

FOLA's Homepage

A Food Oasis in Los Angeles

A self-proclaimed resource for food-seekers, policy makers, and volunteers alike, FOLA is “creating a web/mobile platform to visualize the complex landscape of these often disparate solutions on one map.” 

Separated by category of where to find Free Food (Food Pantries), Grow Food (Community Gardens), and find Food for Sale (Farmer’s Markets), FOLA users can search for food by Zip Code, neighborhood, or simply by sharing one’s current location. Each food dispensary appears as a different color pin on the map (yellow for Food Pantries, green for Community Gardens, and red for Farmers Markets).

A FOLA Map of 91605

In accordance with the LA City pLAn to “Ensure all low-income Angelenos live within a half mile of fresh food by 2035,” FOLA’s interactive maps are helping to illuminate the disparities of food access throughout LA by visually contrasting food oases (“an area where healthy food options are plentiful and readily available for all”) with food deserts (“A low-income, low-access area with people living more than 1 mile [10 miles in rural areas] from the nearest supermarket”).

Check-out FOLA’s map to learn more about the landscape of food access throughout LA County, and continue volunteering with Food Forward to make sure that these food pantries are stocked with fresh, local produce!

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Have you met Rosemary?

February 27th, 2017

2.27.17 – For February’s Produce of the Month, we’re featuring a humble herb that grows all over Southern California and goes into all sorts of different kitchen creations.

Here at Food Forward, we love profiling ingredients that do the heavy lifting as the main flavors in hearty meals. Sometimes, however, the most important part of a delicious, local dish is the seasonings. This month, we’re featuring an herb that grows easily in our Southern California climate and can be thrown into pretty much anything: rosemary!

Picture of Rosemary

Rosemary (scientific name: Rosmarinus officinalis) has wood-like stems and needle-like leaves and grows in areas big or small. In suitable climates (like ours), rosemary can grow to hedge size, or even larger. It likes full sun and well-drained soil and is a member of the mint family. This aromatic plant has been cultivated for medicinal purposes in the Mediterranean for thousands of years. You’ll recognize it by its fragrance when you rub your fingers against it. Have you seen it growing in your neighborhood? Next time you’re out for a walk, take a look, you may be surprised at how ubiquitous this plant is.

How to Grow Rosemary

As a native to the Mediterranean region, rosemary thrives here. It is great to grow at home because it does well in pots and is not very finicky — just make sure it’s in soil that can drain. Growth may be slower in the first year, but your patience will be rewarded in the second year. Trim your rosemary plant regularly to encourage new stems and leaves.

Culinary Uses for Rosemary

If you have rosemary growing at home (or at a friendly neighbor’s house), cut sprigs of it at any time and put it in your favorite dishes. It can also be dried for later use by hanging it upside down.

One of the simplest things you can do with rosemary (if you’re new to using it) is create a delicious dipping oil. Take a few sprigs and store them in olive oil, mix with some salt, pepper, and garlic, and break out a loaf of whole-grain bread when you’re ready to enjoy. Get fancy by heating the oil with the rosemary in it, and then cooling it back down.

Once you have some familiarity with this herb, try using it as a rub on meat before cooking it. Rosemary pairs especially well with chicken, pork, and lamb.

Making roasted potatoes or veggies? Sprinkle rosemary on top and get ready for a delicious pop of flavor.

Once you’ve really gotten the hang of using rosemary in your daily cooking, try it in baking. There are quite a few baked goods made with this herb such as: Rosemary Shortbread Cookies, Rosemary Apricot Bars, and Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Now that you see how versatile this plant is, honor it this month by showing it off in your cooking!

A collection of herbs

Can you guess which herb is playing a supporting role – pictured here on stage left – at our Spring Melt Craft Table?


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Can you help us get fresh fruit to those in need?

February 23rd, 2017

You may know that Food Forward harvests fruit from all over Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. One of the most abundant regions we work in is the San Fernando Valley where we harvest tens of thousands of pounds of fresh produce to donate to the agencies we serve in the area.

We recently received unfortunate news from the California Department of Food & Agriculture that will prevent us from harvesting any fruit from a very large part of the east San Fernando Valley due to a quarantine zone in effect for the Mediterranean Fruit Fly, a pest that can potentially have significant consequence on California agriculture.


While we are fully complying with the quarantine, we are obviously concerned about our inability to connect generous homeowners with fruit trees to hunger-relief agencies that rely on this fresh produce. In order to minimize the impact this quarantine could have on our partner agencies, which is currently estimated at nearly 100,000 pounds of fresh produce lost, we are reaching out to you to help spread the word!

How can you help?

Please consider sharing your experience with Food Forward to encourage homeowners outside of the quarantine area to donate their fruit too!

Sharing our work is as easy as a post on social media,, or in your local community or homeowner association newsletter. Here are sample texts to use, but feel free to share your own story about why you are involved with Food Forward!

If you are a homeowner who wants to donate, please click here to register your fruit tree!

Donate your fruit!

Please note: if you live within the quarantine zone and have fruit trees, your fruit is safe to eat. Fruit cannot be transported off-site in order to minimize the risk of spreading the fruit fly.

For more information on the quarantine or for more details on sharing Food Forward’s work, please email sample post

Do you have fruit trees? If you can’t eat all of the fruit that your tree produces, Food Forward can help! They will pick the extra fruit from your trees and make sure it is donated to a hunger-relief agency in our community.

Food Forward staff coordinates with a homeowner’s schedule and sends volunteers out to pick the fruit. They are fully insured, provide all equipment, and supply a tax-deductible receipt for the donation but, most importantly, donate every piece of fruit to people in need.

If you have fruit trees and are unable to eat all of the fruit, please consider donating it instead of letting it go to waste! To learn more about how it works or to register your fruit tree, please visit You can also email for more information.

Facebook or Instagram sample post

Find Food Forward on Facebook at foodforwardla and on Instagram at foodforward

Got fruit trees? Can’t eat all of the fruit? If you are in LA or Ventura Counties, donate your fruit instead of letting it go to waste! Food Forward can pick your fruit and make sure it gets to people in need in our community. Visit

Newsletter sample

Do you have a fruit tree? Would you like to donate your excess fruit to those in need?

If your property has mature, well-pruned fruit trees that are less than 15 feet tall with at least 100 pieces of easily accessible fruit, and Food Forward has volunteers in your area, your fruit can be harvested and donated to those in need!

Food Forward is a Southern California-based nonprofit organization that has recovered over 30 million pounds of produce that would normally go to waste. If you have an abundance of fruit on your property, Food Forward volunteers will pick the excess and then donate 100% of the fresh produce collected to local food banks and other hunger-relief agencies.

Fruit Donors are ensured that every piece of fruit is going to someone in need and will also receive a tax-deductible receipt for an in-kind donation. If you would like to register your tree, go to, call the fruitline: 818 530 4125 or email If you would like to volunteer with Food Forward, sign up at




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What does all this rain mean for your citrus trees?

February 20th, 2017

2.20.17 -Is this stormy weather bogging your citrus trees down? Find out more in this post from Sam Royall, our wonderful Volunteer Program Assistant from Occidental College.

Rain and your Citrus Tree

As you may have noticed from LA’s lush and uncharacteristically green mountainsides, we are in the midst of one of California’s rainiest winters in recent history! And while this has probably allowed you to slip-on a rare pair of rainboots and splash around, have you wondered how these storms have been impacting your citrus trees? Grab a cup of tea, play your favorite rainy day song, and learn a bit about how to best care for your citrus trees in this blustery weather!

Picking Fruit in the Rain


How much is too much?

Depending on the age of your tree and the composition of your soil, citrus trees require varying amounts of water, ranging from a good soak every 7 to 28 days. This rain has probably drenched the your trees’ roots, but do you know if they’re being over watered? Check-out these signs of overwatered citrus to figure out when to give your citrus tree its next soak!


Signs of Over-Watering

Citrus leaves curl with too much water

Leaf curling: With too much moisture, air isn’t able to properly circulate throughout your tree, resulting in a rumpling of the outer edges of your citrus leaves

Leaf discoloration: If your leaves are looking pale and yellowish-green, the roots of your trees may be waterlogged, meaning that the proper amount of nutrients isn’t able to be distributed

Citrus can split from overwatering

Split fruit peels: If your fruit is starting to split while still on the tree, it can indicate that the fruit is being injected with too much water after the peel is fully grown

If you notice any of these signs in your citrus trees, check to make sure that the soil around your tree is draining, and then take a break from manual watering for a few days or weeks depending on the severity of these symptoms. Keep checking the moisture of the soil around your tree, but don’t worry! All of this water will make your fruit even bigger and juicier than ever!

More on Fruit Tree Care

For more details:

Signs of Overwatering in Orange Trees 

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