Produce of the Month: Pomelo

September 6th, 2019

 

Pomelos can grow to be pretty big, as demonstrated here by Los Angeles Harvest Supervisor Jason Landers! 

 

What is a pomelo?
The pomelo, or pummelo, is a citrus fruit native to South and Southeast Asia. Its scientific name is citrus grandis, a reference to its size—it is the largest citrus fruit in the Rutaceae family! It is one of the original citrus species and has been hybridized to create many of our favorite citrus fruits (like the mandarin orange and the kumquat). Pomelos are similar to grapefruit, but typically much larger and with a thicker rind. Some pomelos are even as big as a basketball! When ripe, the fruit is a pale green to yellow color on the outside and the inside is typically white, but sometimes pink or red (which means its more sour!). Pomelos are eaten on Chinese New Year because they are said to bring continuous prosperity, and the more pomelos eaten means more wealth in the new year!

 

 

Where and how they grow
Pomelos are exported in large quantities from the Philippines and Australia, but are also grown in the United States from November through June. Pomelos are mainly grown in Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas, as pomelos grow best in a dry, semi-tropical climate. A pomelo tree can reach 50 feet high! There are pomelo trees growing right here in L.A., and Food Forward even harvests pomelos through our Backyard Harvest program. If you’re interested in pomelos, you can sign up to come pick them with us!

Health benefits
There are also many health benefits attributed to the pomelo. They contain Vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, magnesium, and vitamin B6. The pomelo is attributed to boosting the immune system, aiding with digestion, regulating blood pressure, preventing cramping, improving bone health, promoting wound healing, and even holding anti-aging properties!

 

 

Try a pomelo recipe!
The peel of a pomelo can be used to make a delicious marmalade among other sweet treats. Below is a candied pomelo peel recipe from Elizabeth Schneider’s “Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables: A Commonsense Guide” (William Morrow, 1998):

Deeply score a small to medium cleaned pomelo (2 pounds) in eighths. Remove peel and trim ends. Cut peel lengthwise into 1/4- inch strips. These should measure 4 cups total. Place peel in a large pot of boiling water and boil 1 minute. Drain and repeat two more times, the last batch for 8 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a 3-quart saucepan, combine 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, 1 1/4 cups dark corn syrup, 1 1/4 cups water and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Bring to a soft boil. Add the drained peel and simmer for approximately 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. When most of the liquid is gone, carefully remove the peel and place on a sheet pan that has been covered in sugar. Sprinkle more sugar on top and gently toss to coat. If desired, use organic cane sugar, which has larger crystals. Place peel on a baker’s rack and allow to dry for a day or two. Store in an airtight container.

 

0 comments This entry was posted in Food Forward News, Produce of the Month. Bookmark the permalink.


Agency Spotlight: Los Angeles LGBT Center

August 22nd, 2019

Food Forward serves over 1,800 hunger relief agencies through donations of our recovered fruits and vegetables, and with that many organizations it can be hard to keep track of the work each one is doing in our communities. We’d like to tell you more about one of those organizations, which some of our staff recently had the pleasure of visiting. It’s the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year!

The newest addition to the LA LGBT Center’s many facilities in Los Angeles, the Anita May Rosenstein Campus, will provide more units of affordable housing for seniors, more beds and supportive housing units for youth, and a commercial kitchen to feed homeless youth and seniors. 

About the LGBT Center

The Los Angeles LGBT Center currently operates seven different facilities and seeks to help LGBT individuals thrive in all areas of life. The Center offers health services, social services and housing, culture and education programs, and leadership and advocacy trainings. Every month, the organization receives an average of 42,000 visits, and their services are free or low cost and open to all.

More LGBT people receive services from the LA LGBT center than from any other organization in the world, including life-saving services. The Center provides housing, social services, and mentoring programs for youth, with a focus on youth experiencing homelessness. 40% of youth living on the streets in LA identify as LGBTQ, and the Center provides them with three meals a day, clothing, counseling, education, as well as emergency and Transitional Living Program beds.

The LGBT Center also provides an extensive array of services to LGBT seniors, who often struggle with living expenses, as they are less likely than heterosexual seniors to have children, grandchildren, or partners to support them. Their Triangle Square facility is LA’s only affordable housing development for LGBT seniors, and offers 104 affordable housing units. The Center also provides food and case management services, as well as programs and activities that help connect seniors and reduce the isolation many experience.

 

Residents at the LGBT Center’s affordable housing development for seniors, Triangle Square, unpack Swiss chard from Food Forward boxes. 

Another key focus of the center is providing health care that is specific to the LGBT community. Some of their services include: HIV and AIDS testing and prevention, HIV and AIDS care, a Transgender Health Program, mental health counseling, violence prevention and survivor support, and addiction recovery services. Over 28,700 people visited their health center in 2018.

The Center also produces theater performances and hosts exhibitions that celebrate LGBT people and culture, operates a charter high school, and provides scholarships to students. They advocate both locally and nationally for policies and funding that support LGBTQ people, and support other LGBTQ organizations and activists.

 

Food Forward and the LGBT Center

Since 2012, the Los Angeles LGBT Center has been receiving Food Forward recovered produce. Their senior housing facility at Triangle Square receives fresh fruits and vegetables from the Hollywood Farmers Market every week, and the new Anita May Rosenstein Campus receives rescued produce from the Larchmont Farmers Market twice a month. All of this high-quality produce directly reaches about 60 individuals each month through the LGBT Center’s free farmers markets and hundreds more through its vibrant culinary program. Nick Panepinto, Director of Culinary Training and Operations, estimates that culinary program participants prepare 450 meals a day, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner for campus residents, and lunch for seniors at their Triangle Square site.

 

Food Forward staff and volunteers with Kristin Flickinger, Director of Programs, and Nick Panepinto, Director of Culinary Training and Operations, in a fridge with Food Forward produce! 

 

Food Forward staff recently had the joy of volunteering at the Anita May Rosenstein Campus, where we helped with food prep in the kitchen and gave out free produce to seniors for their bi-monthly free farmers market. We also got a tour of the new facility, which opened earlier this year and doubles the number of beds that The Center provides for homeless youth. Once completed, it will also have 99 units of affordable housing for LGBT seniors. Director of Senior Services, Kiera Pollock, says, “We are so pleased to partner with Food Forward to provide fresh, local, healthy, produce in our meals and our farmers market program for our homeless and low-income seniors and youth. Without the help of Food Forward, we would not be able to provide quality and healthy food for our community.”

We hope you enjoyed reading more about the Los Angeles LGBT center and the amazing work they are doing to serve the LGBTQ community here in LA. Here at Food Forward, we are grateful that we can play a role in providing fresh, healthy foods to the thousands of people served by this Los Angeles institution.

 

0 comments This entry was posted in Food Forward News, Food Insecurity. Bookmark the permalink.


Bringing his DIY spirit to the table

August 16th, 2019

Meet our Volunteer of the Month, Eron Rauch! Eron is a unique volunteer—instead of leading gleans, he helps us capture them with his camera. Eron is a photographer and artist who first supported Food Forward by raising money through a pizza-themed draw-a-thon! He also photographs many of our events, from gleans and Produce Pick-Ups to special events like the Spring Melt, Produce Pit Stop opening, and our volunteer appreciation parties. Eron is enormously talented, generous, and a just an all-around great guy! We hope you enjoy learning more about Eron, what motivates him to volunteer, and what it’s like to see our work from behind the lens. To see more of Eron’s work, you can head to his website, www.eronrauch.com.

 

So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?
My friend Shing Yin Khor and I were trying to find a way to help us artists, who often have more energy than money, use our talents to create some tangible good in the world. We’re also both giant nerds about cooking. Which led to Project Pizza: a fake pop-up restaurant that sells food-themed art. We had the artists, we had the infrastructure, we had hundreds of pizza boxes to send the art in, but we were looking for the right organization to send the proceeds. My partner, Callie, knew Food Forward from her job as a vendor at the Santa Monica Farmers Market and when she mentioned it, we know it was a perfect match!

What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?
A major part of our desire to work with Food Forward was the core way it supported our local communities without imposing decisions on them. Having enough food—good food—is one of the foundations for having agency in society, and Food Forward is making that more possible for so many people.

From a practical perspective, as fundraisers who have to work with the limited space of social media, the ease of explaining how much impact a gift has helps us reach more people. At one point, we even used baby elephants to count how much food people’s donations redirected.

 

Left, the Project Pizza draw-a-thon in action; Right, Eron and Shing doing some important research for Project Pizza.

 

What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
I always have way too many projects going at once! Right now, I’m trying to balance writing for the creative development department of a major video game studio, doing art direction for music festivals and records (including our local Angel City Jazz Festival), and still find time to work on my own art, including collaborating with an archeologist on a photo book about virtual/real depictions of Tokyo and another installation project about digital fan culture. Oh, and cooking as much as I can!

What has been your favorite event to photograph? 
The opening of the Produce Pit Stop was the best for me. Sure, it wasn’t as spectacular as Spring Melt at the Jim Henson Lot or as beautiful as a summer morning in a farmers market (and it was certainly harder to make look great in a photo), but we grew Project Pizza almost 10x from the previous year in our attempt to help raise money for the warehouse fund. Infrastructure isn’t always sexy, but seeing pallet after pallet of produce ready to be rerouted into at-need communities was amazing.

 

Eron has captured momentous occasions like the Produce Pit Stop Grand Opening this June! 

 

How would you describe the volunteer experience as a photographer?
Photographing is always weird because my job almost guarantees I’m running all over to get shots, so I don’t really know what the events feel like for the guests or Food Forward staff/volunteers! Once in a while I grab a market or pick shift just to enjoy getting out there and getting my hands dirty.

What was your first volunteer day like?
Haha, technically my first volunteer day was sitting at this same computer pushing some pixels to make a cool Project Pizza logo! The first time I went out as a volunteer was helping pick an orange orchard, which as I mentioned in the previous question, was really fun but also muddy, which kind of brought me back to all the time I spent helping on our relatives’ farms as a kid.  Until I realized I forgot to bring extra shoes and spent two hours out in a muddy orchard and had to figure out how to not slather my car in that mud.

 

More of Eron’s work: Left, Food Forward staff and volunteers at the Watts Produce Pick-Up; Right, the premiere of LA Foodways, which featured Food Forward.

 

What have you learned from volunteering?
One aspect of Food Forward that continually amazes me is the diversity of people and skills involved in making the organization as successful as it is. Sometimes it’s easy to not help because you think, “Oh, I couldn’t do that; that isn’t something I know anything about; I don’t have that skill.” But every time I help out at Food Forward, I realize there’s a place for everyone. Whether that’s organizing a maze of pallets, running social media, picking oranges, or even, heaven forbid, being a weird photographer, everyone’s unique skills and personalities come together to make something bigger.

Is there a particularly powerful volunteering moment you’d like to share?
Standing in the massive refrigerator in the Produce Pit Stop was really the highlight for me, seeing how Shing and I’s silly idea for a restaurant that didn’t sell food came together to help support a little corner of such a massive operation.

From Project Pizza, an amazing moment was when we pulled out the last pizza of our 2018 event, threw it on the table for a dozen artists drawing half-asleep after a 16 hour day, said goodbye on the live stream, closed the order form, and looked at our receipts and realized that even though we had drawn over 400 pieces of art, Shing still had to make over 50 more pieces because people had been so generous!

 

Wonderful moments from the 2019 Spring Melt, captured by Eron.

 

Any words of wisdom you live by?
Maybe it’s because I spent a lot of my youth in a small-ish town where nothing happened if you didn’t make it yourself, but I’m a big believer in a DIY spirit. Don’t wait around, don’t be fussy, just get out there and make it happen however you can: we started Project Pizza with just a hand-drawn logo and some leftover pizza boxes!

0 comments This entry was posted in Food Forward News, Volunteer of the Month. Bookmark the permalink.


Hunger and homelessness in Los Angeles

July 24th, 2019

Folks at a school in South LA pick up free produce supplied by Food Forward.

The Issue

In this year’s homeless count, it was estimated that there are just about 59,000 homeless people in L.A. County this year. This number represents how many individuals are homeless in a given night in L.A. That number is 12% higher than 2018’s already staggering statistic. Development of affordable housing has remained nearly stagnant as the L.A. population has continued to grow, leaving simply too few units for too many people. Homelessness affects so many people for a myriad of reasons, such as unemployment/underemployment, poverty, and domestic violence in a previous housing situation.

One of the biggest culprits is the rising cost of living, as rents have continued to increase at a rate much higher than income has. Since 2000, the cost of rent has increased by 32%, leaving Angelenos priced out of where they live. There are 721,000 severely rent burdened households in L.A., and without better housing options these people are at risk of becoming homeless as well. Despite efforts to house people, the increases in rent are continuing to drive homelessness. This is evidenced by the fact that in 2018, L.A. County housed 21,631 previously homeless people, but the number of homeless folks still increased by over 6,000 in that year. So many people around us have to make the impossible choice between food and shelter, deciding whether to pay rent or buy groceries. Providing food to those in need can make the difference for someone who can’t afford both.

 

The Inglewood Produce Pick-Up provides free fruits and vegetables to folks who may have to choose between paying rent and buying groceries. 

How can we address it?

The issue of homelessness in Los Angeles comes down to a lack of affordable and transitional housing across the city. Not in my backyard, or NIMBYism, is the idea that although one may support the development of affordable housing, they’d prefer it not be in their neighborhood. It is estimated that L.A. would have to build 568,000 affordable housing units to meet the current demand of low income renters. This means that we must all support affordable housing being built all over the city. The restrictive housing market has curbed the development of much-needed affordable housing, and has allowed housing that was once affordable to become wholly unaffordable.

One such block to affordable housing in the city is the Costa Hawkins Act, passed in 1995. This Act prevents a city from establishing rent control on buildings built after 1995, and allows landlords to increase rent to market-rate after a tenant moves out. Policies like these must be reconsidered as we move forward if we are going to stop the displacement and pricing-out of L.A.’s citizens. Homelessness in L.A. takes on a particularly dangerous form, as 75% of L.A.’s homeless citizens are unsheltered. This sets L.A. apart from other cities with large homeless populations, such as New York, which does a far better job of providing shelter to their homeless population so less people are sleeping on the street on any given night. It is clear that L.A. is in a crisis, and that large market changes must be made to our current housing model. Until then, we must provide more temporary shelter for our fellow citizens, because nobody should be without shelter.

Local organization Lunch on Me provides free meals to folks on Skid Row, and they joined us recently at the Burbank Farmers Market to pick up rescued produce

Who’s helping now

Food Forward works with many outstanding and innovative organizations that are taking on the issue of homelessness in L.A. We can all help by donating our time, money, and resources. As citizens, we can keep up with what is going on in our city and hold our elected officials accountable for creating and supporting policies that will mitigate a situation largely created by neglectful housing policy. Below is a list of great organizations that you may want to consider supporting, in any way that you can. Los Angeles must take steps to both help those currently homeless in the city as well as those facing rent hikes, loss of job, or unstable housing situations that are at-risk of becoming homeless. Increasing access to free food is a relief to those who are already struggling to pay the bills, and can hopefully play a role in allowing folks to pay rent and keep their homes.

For those currently facing homelessness in L.A., the importance of a fresh meal is not lost on us at Food Forward. We glean produce that would otherwise go to waste from farmers markets, backyards, and the Wholesale Recovery Market in Downtown and donate it to hunger relief agencies, many of whom work with people struggling with homelessness. Our food recovery events are volunteer-powered, and we’d love to have you join us! Check out our volunteer calendar to join an event near you. If you have fruit trees with an abundance of fruit that you’d like to donate to us, let us know! Below is a list of places and people that we donate produce to, because we know they are providing it to their community members in need and helping our fellow neighbors:

A Place Called Home
Lunch on Me
LA Family Housing
Bienestar
MEND
SOVA
Dream Center
Hollywood Food Coalition
North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry
St. Joseph Center

 

Written by Natalie Arbogast, Volunteer Program Assistant

References:

0 comments This entry was posted in Food Forward News, Food Insecurity, Food Recovery. Bookmark the permalink.


Donating her time to make a difference

July 19th, 2019

Introducing our Volunteer of the Month, Michaela! Michaela has been volunteering with Food Forward since 2016 and in that time she has volunteered at over 40 gleaning events! Michaela finished her Pick Leader training in April of 2019 and she’s led multiple harvest events each month. She brings her passion and dedication to each harvest event and we’re grateful for her support, hard work, and advocacy. Michaela has been a wonderful addition to our fruity family and we hope you get the chance to volunteer with her!

 

So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?
I was the HR leader at my Target store for the past 3 years and one of my responsibilities was community involvement. We have a goal for volunteer hours for the year so I started looking for opportunities locally that my team would enjoy. I found Food Forward and had a couple of team members join me for some backyard harvests. I loved it so I just kept coming back!

What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?
I really enjoy being outside, connecting with nature, and knowing that what I am doing has a direct impact on the community. I love that Food Forward is trying to solve both food waste and food insecurities at the same time.

What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
I tend to make a lot of goals for myself and am constantly trying to be a better me every day. Volunteering is a big part of my identity, but also I’m really into fitness, reading, and writing. I work at Target full-time as a Closing Team Leader and I love to travel. I’ve been to 45 out of the 50 states and several countries. I included a photo of me in Greece from last year.

 

 

What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?
I love that I have the chance to meet so many amazing individuals. Sometimes working in retail can be frustrating, or social media can be full of negative posts or argumentative comments, but when I am volunteering with Food Forward everyone has such a positive attitude. The homeowners have donated their fruit and opened their backyards to us and the other volunteers are giving some of their free time; it’s truly a lovely experience and reminds me of all the good in the world.

How would you describe the volunteer experience at a harvest?
I think the volunteer experience is an easy one! They get to pick what area they would like to harvest in, based on how far they want to drive (which is really important in LA) and they don’t have to bring anything! Volunteers just show up and we provide all of the equipment. It’s always 1-2 hours so it fits into the day easily and everyone is so nice and friendly!

What was your first volunteer day like?
I think it was back in 2016 so I don’t really remember my first harvest, but I have had a lot of great ones since!

 


What have you learned from volunteering?

I’ve learned how many amazing people are in the world and how something that seems so small can make such a huge difference. I used to think that because I didn’t have a lot of money I couldn’t make a difference. But donating your time is just as powerful! Time is something we can never get back and is never guaranteed.

Is there a particularly powerful volunteering moment you’d like to share?
All of the big harvests feel powerful: CSUN, Orcutt Ranch, etc. When you have a big group of people coming together for the same mission you can really see the effect. The amount of fruit we are able to save, the amount of boxes we’re able to fill, and ultimately the amount of people that we can feed is astonishing. I love seeing the results of a big pick!

Any words of wisdom you live by?
“You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously.” – Sophia Bush

0 comments This entry was posted in Food Forward News, Volunteer of the Month. Bookmark the permalink.


All in this together

June 26th, 2019

June’s Volunteer of the Month is Ventura’s own David Lawless! David is not only a Community Ambassador who helps us spread the word about Food Forward at events across Ventura County, he also volunteers regularly at fruit picks. At a recent grapefruit harvest in Somis, David went above and beyond and offered to help count boxes and wrap the pallet of boxes in our Food Forward van. This is a challenging task and not easy to do by oneself, so we really appreciated his help and willingness to jump in. Thanks, David! 

David poses with a box of fruit at our recent Fruit Drive with Betty Belts.

 

So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?
I was looking for volunteer opportunities and saw that one of the food banks had listed Food Forward as a partner, so I checked it out.

What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?
Feeding the hungry with nutritious food hits all the right notes to me. When I became a vegetarian years ago, I did so after learning about how whole, plant-based foods are so good for health and wellness. So what better way to help those that lack sufficient food than providing them the best food there is?
Also for avoiding food waste–I remember being in NYC eating at a restaurant in Little Italy years ago, and seeing a European couple making sure to eat every crumb on their plate, and I thought: “Wow, they must appreciate food more over there than we as Americans do.” Now, Food Forward’s awareness on the topic, and just coming to the point of having gratitude for the plants that created this food and the people that raise them, has me trying to avoid wasting food as much as possible.

What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
I am the Marketing Manager for EQ2–which does asset management software for hospitals. I get to use both the creative and analytical sides of my brain to lead all marketing functions including strategy, product marketing, market research, communications, and tactics.
I am also just finishing up my second term as Vice President of Collegiate Relations and Membership for Young Professionals at American Marketing Association Los Angeles. It has been great working with young people as they transition from college into the professional world!
I also love hiking, kayaking, traveling, and just being outside.

 

David, pictured third from left in the baseball cap, at a big Meyer Lemon harvest in Santa Rosa Valley.

 

What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?
In addition to what I mentioned above, I really like seeing how food grows and the beautiful properties that we often pick from. Also, the people–staff, other volunteers, and receiving agencies—are always friendly. You get to be outdoors and it’s just a fun way to spend two hours!

How would you describe the volunteer experience at a tabling event?
At a tabling event, so many people know us or have heard about what we do and they always say great things about what we are doing. That positive energy makes it easy to connect and makes the experience enjoyable.

What was your first volunteer day like?
We picked persimmons in Moorpark. Ally Gialketsis was leading the pick and was very welcoming and made everything easy. I met others who were also first-timers and some that had done it several times before. The pick was fun and I thought–“I need to do this often!”

 

 

What have you learned from volunteering?
How many people really care about others. That isn’t generally what gets reported in the media, but it is absolutely the case.

Is there a particularly powerful volunteering moment you’d like to share?
Sometimes when the pick is over and the receiving agency has arrived to pick up the fruit donation, their representative will talk to us as a group and tell us about the people that the food is going to help. This can be very powerful because you hear about how the food is making a difference for individuals and for families that have found themselves in challenging circumstances. These are fellow members of our community and so you realize we are all in this together.

Any words of wisdom you live by?
No particular words or sayings; I am just always focused on growing and finding balance in life.

0 comments This entry was posted in Food Forward News, Volunteer of the Month. Bookmark the permalink.


The Produce Pit Stop opens its doors

June 20th, 2019

Food Forward opens a produce recovery hub in Bell, CA. The Produce Pit Stop is funded in part by a grant from the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) through California Climate Investments and will help Food Forward redirect millions of pounds of fresh produce to hunger relief agencies across Southern California each month. Learn more here.

0 comments This entry was posted in 10 Year Anniversary. Bookmark the permalink.


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

3 comments This entry was posted in Food Forward News, Food Insecurity, Food Recovery, Food Waste. Bookmark the permalink.


Spreading kindness through food

May 14th, 2019

Introducing our Volunteer of the Month for May, Hank Brehman! Hank has been volunteering with Food Forward since 2014, and quickly got more involved and became a Glean Team Leader. Hank has lead at 7 farmers markets throughout Los Angeles, including Santa Monica Wednesday, Culver City, Mar Vista, and Hollywood! He also regularly volunteers at fruit picks and always brings a can-do attitude. Thanks, Hank, for your hard work & dedication to food justice!

 

Hank, pictured far right, leading a glean team at the Santa Monica Wednesday farmers market! 

 

So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?  
I heard about Food Forward from an Earth Week presentation at Santa Monica college.

 

What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?
I realized that I’ll have a relationship with food as long as I’m living and that I can do something every day to combat food injustices and better my understanding of food. I’ve become a mindful locavore in part because of my experiences withFood Forward.

 

What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
I work as a butcher for Wolfgang Puck. I like to read about honey bees. I’m in the process of being matched with a little brother or sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles. I’ve always been the youngest in my family so I’m really looking forward to helping someone else grow.

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?
Having a consistent positive impact in other people’s lives and being able to share that rewarding experience with new volunteers. If a utopia exists, most inhabitants regularly volunteer with Food Forward.

 

How would you describe the volunteer experience at a market?
Rewarding and enriching. Many volunteers are out of their comfort zone at first but get more involved.

 

What was your first volunteer day like?
Busy—just me and the glean team leader at Brentwood. I later met her again as a pick leader and we caught up with each other while picking kumquats.

 

What have you learned from volunteering?
Being selfless is contagious and loving kindness spreads easily through food.

 

 

 

 

Is there a particularly powerful volunteering moment you’d like to share?
The Wednesday Santa Monica Market always gets a lot of donations and I remember a day several years ago when none of the volunteers showed up and I got a call from the volunteer coordinator—who drove from the North Hollywood HQ for the glean—asking for help. I showed up when I could and helped with the weight distribution. We collected around 2000 pounds that day and one farm donated 400 pounds of avocados!

 

Any words of wisdom you live by?
Emulate babies—stay inquisitive and seek more developed mindsets.

 

0 comments This entry was posted in Food Forward News, Volunteer News, Volunteer of the Month. Bookmark the permalink.


Agency Spotlight: Friends of Fieldworkers

May 10th, 2019

Fieldworkers harvesting. Photo credit: Diana Robinson, provided by the Creative Commons license

Food Forward works like a bridge, connecting fresh produce to local organizations that provide food assistance and other services to their communities. These organizations are an essential piece of what we do, and they are on the ground every day working to improve the lives of their neighbors. Today we’d like to tell you about one of our partner agencies in Ventura—Friends of Fieldworkers!

 

Founded in October 2013 in response to the Oxnard fire, Friends of Fieldworkers initially functioned as a disaster relief organization—providing clothing, household items, furniture, toys, and medical supplies to displaced families throughout the area. After seeing the devastating degree to which families of fieldworkers were impacted by the fires, Friends of Fieldworkers shifted its focus to support families of fieldworkers in all aspects of their lives. Now, the organization offers a number of direct service programs including housing assistance, scholarships for higher education, and direct food distribution.

 

 

A young community member served by Friends of Fieldworkers enjoys a fresh piece of fruit. Photo credit: Friends of Fieldworkers

Agriculture is a big part of Ventura County’s economy, with the estimated value of crops grown equalling 2.2 billion dollars in 2015. Fieldworkers are a huge part of this economic sector, but many struggle to afford the cost of living in Ventura. Ironically, our food system depends on the labor of fieldworkers, yet more than 50% of California fieldworkers experience food insecurity. In addition, many fieldworkers are undocumented immigrants, which can make accessing government services a challenge.

 

According to Judy Lucas, Founder and President of Friends of Fieldworkers, Food Forward has been “a god-send… It’s wonderful to be able to share Food Forward fresh produce with these families who often have only limited and expensive choices.” Since partnering with Food Forward in October 2018, Friends of Fieldworkers has received over 6,400 pounds of citrus and avocados from Backyard Harvest events throughout Ventura County!

 

Food Forward volunteers pose with mandarins, ready to be donated to Friends of Fieldworkers! 

We hope you enjoyed learning about this amazing organization and our partnership with them. You can learn more about Friends of Fieldworkers here, and get involved in a Food Forward pick or glean here!

0 comments This entry was posted in Food Forward News, Food Insecurity. Bookmark the permalink.