Double YOUR Impact on Giving Tuesday

November 26th, 2017

You can help Food Forward recover TWICE as much fresh produce on Tuesday, November 28 by raising funds or donating on Facebook. For one day only, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be matching up to $2 million raised on Facebook for nonprofits.

 

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Tuesday, November 28 marks the beginning of Food Forward’s End of Year Fundraising campaign! From now until the end of the year, it’s our goal to raise $100,000 to help bring more fresh fruits and vegetables to people in need than ever before. For every $1 you donate, Food Forward will get 11 pounds of produce to our neighbors who need it most.

 

Want to DOUBLE your impact on Giving Tuesday?

 

For one day only, November the 28th, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be matching up to $2 million raised on Facebook for nonprofits. Facebook will also waive its fees!

How can you take advantage of the match and help jumpstart our End of Year Campaign? On Tuesday, simply go to the Food Forward Facebook page, hit the donate button, and make your contribution. It’s that easy!

OR…

Consider launching your own Facebook fundraiser. Click here to check out the new page on our Food Forward website to find out how you can create your own fundraiser. In a few short steps, you’ll be set to tell the world how much you care about fighting hunger and food waste!

Be sure to donate early before the match runs out! Donations from 8:00 am EST on November 28 will be matched — up to $50,000 per nonprofit, or $1,000 per fundraiser.

But, wait! There’s more!

If you make a $200 donation on Facebook or mobilize your friends and family to raise $200 or more for your campaign on Giving Tuesday, we’ll send you a free Food Forward Weekender (pictured below). This generously-sized sturdy carryall will tote-ally be your new favorite bag!

 

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Please note! You can only get your free Weekender on Giving Tuesday. After your donation has been made through Facebook or your campaign reaches $200, email Pam Guerra with your name and address. Then we’ll mail you a Weekender!

 

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Volunteer with us this Holiday Season!

November 13th, 2017

11.13.17 – Harvesting food to fight hunger feels especially relevant this time of year. As we take time to share food with friends and family this holiday season, we also love to give time to share food with our Southern California family. We have tons of volunteer opportunities coming up this holiday season, and we hope that you join us in the coming months to share a little bit of your holidays with us.

Food Forward's Friendsgiving Lunch

Holiday Volunteer Opportunities with Food Forward!

We just finished the last piece of our Halloween candy, and that means that the rest of the holidays are just around the corner. As an organization devoted to food, we could not be more excited for all of the dinners, pies, and cookies that we will soon get to share with our friends and families.

Because food plays such an important role in making the holidays, well, the holidays, these next two months are also a great time to connect with Food Forward volunteer opportunities. We’d love to have you share a little bit of your holidays with us!

Volunteer this holiday season!

Fighting Hunger this Holiday Season

Here at Food Forward, we like to take extra time during the holidays to think about how our work impacts folks across Southern California. While we’re busy year round working to Harvest Food, Fight Hunger, and Build Community, our mission feels especially important to us as we celebrate (and eat!) food with our own families and friends.

And we’re not alone! Like big meals, school vacation, and visits from relatives, volunteering during the holidays is an important American tradition. According to VolunteerMatch, Americans will volunteer 15-20% more during these next two months than the rest of the year.

Three Food Forward Volunteers at the Larchmont Farmers Market

Our Farmers Market Gleans are a fun way to spend your holidays giving back!

Upcoming Holiday Volunteer Opportunities

Fruits and veggies don’t stop working during the holidays, and neither do we! Our volunteers will still be picking fruit and collecting produce at harvests and Farmers Markets all through the next two months. We love being able to provide fresh and local produce to sit on the table beside the stuffing and gravy.

Here are some of our upcoming volunteer events around Thanksgiving and December holidays:

 

Wednesday, December 20th

Prepare Produce for the MudTown Farmers Market in Watts

Saturday, December 23rd

Ventura Farmers Market

Torrance Farmers Market

Calabasas Farmers Market

Burbank Farmers Market

Sunday, December 24th

Hollywood Farmers Market

Channel Islands Farmers Market

Melrose Place Farmers Market

Long Beach Farmers Market

Saturday, January 6th

Welcome Orientation for New Volunteers!

and more!

Volunteer Opportunities for Families

November and December are full to the brim with family events, dinners, and celebrations. They’re also the perfect time to give back as a family and share a really special experience volunteering together. Most of our events are perfect for families and small groups, and parents are welcome to bring children along with them (see our events calendar for information about age restrictions).

One of our stellar volunteer families from the Santa Monica Farmers Market wrote that they “are looking forward to volunteering again during the holiday season as a family. We have a lot to be thankful for, and it seems right to show that during Thanksgiving weekend.”

Family Fruit Pick!

Three generations of Persimmon Pickers

Have family or old friends coming into town? Bring them along too! For more fun family volunteer ideas, check out our blog post from one of our own Board of Advisors Sarah Spitz, who threw her own birthday party at several of our Farmers Market Recovery Gleaning events a while back! If you want to sign up to volunteer as a family, email us at volunteer@foodforward.org.

“We have a lot to be thankful for, and it seems right to show that during Thanksgiving weekend.”

– A Food Forward Volunteer Family

Holiday Meals at Food Banks and Pantries

The holiday season can be the busiest time for our Receiving Agencies, who bring in more food and more clients than any other time of year. All the extra effort is worth it to be able to share a food-filled and festive experience with folks who might not be able to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal at home this year.

Most Food Banks and Pantries offer special holiday grocery distributions and cooked meals for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah. Many even give turkeys and other traditional foods.

MEND's Thanksgiving Meal

Volunteers cooking Turkey at MEND Poverty

Check out some of these holiday volunteer opportunities at our partner Receiving Agencies! They inspire us year round, and the work they do around this time of year will make you feel warm inside:

The MEND Christmas Basket Program: Our friends over at MEND Poverty are looking for volunteers to help visit families, sort toys, and deliver food to folks throughout the holidays.

Temple Israel of Hollywood’s Christmas Dinner: Join Temple of Israel on or before Christmas Day to help them serve a mighty Christmas Dinner.

Monday Night Mission: Monday Night Mission meets every weekday night to serve food on Skid Row for homeless adults and families who aren’t able to find shelter elsewhere.

Giving Thanks and Giving Back

We hope that you have wonderful holidays this year filled with family, friends, and food. With the abundance of Southern California’s fruit trees and farms all around us, we have a lot to be thankful for. Most especially, we are thankful for the opportunity to share that abundance with others.

We hope that you share your holidays with us this year. Go to our Volunteer Calendar to see a list of volunteer opportunities or email volunteer@foodforward.org for more information.

Volunteer this holiday season!

Happy giving thanks,

– The Food Forward Team

Lunch at the Fruit Cave!

A view from a Food Forward “Friendsgiving” Lunch in years past

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Gleaning in the 805

November 6th, 2017

11.6.17 – Food Forward partnered with gleaning organizations in the 805 region for #Glean805, a collaborative effort that helped to recover tens of thousands of pounds of food for those in need.

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Glean805 is an annual collaboration between local gleaning groups throughout the 805 region including GleanSLO, Santa Barbara’s Backyard Bounty, Santa Ynez Fruit and Veggie Rescue, FOOD Share Ventura, and Food Forward Ventura County. The organizations partner over nine days in October to raise awareness of gleaning efforts across San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties.

Events held between World Food Day on October 16 and National Food Day on October 24 this year resulted in area gleaning organizations recovering over 20,000 of pounds of food that would otherwise go to waste. This translates to over 80,000 servings being donated it to people in need in our communities.

In Ventura County, Food Forward recovered 2,080 pounds from seven fruit picks; 2,154 pounds from four Farmers Market Recovery events; and 6,166 pounds from Wholesale Recovery collections. That’s a total of 10,400 pounds – or 41,6000 servings – during the nine day period.

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The 805 is an area of agricultural abundance, yet there are many people that go hungry. Gleaning is an opportunity for communities to come together and help fight hunger right in their own backyards, while connecting with their neighbors, reducing food waste, and creating a healthier community. Every year, millions of pounds of food go unharvested in fields and neighborhoods across our region.

To get involved in gleaning efforts in Ventura County, visit our volunteer calendar.

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Community Service Opportunities at Food Forward

October 27th, 2017

10.27.17 – Fall is the perfect season to start looking into places to do community service. Schools are getting started, the holidays are coming up, and it’s the right time to start planning your resolutions for the coming year. While we look for volunteers to come out and join us all year round, and have community service opportunities nearly every day of the year, now is definitely a great time to get started!

Harvest Food, Fight Hunger, Complete Community Service

How do you complete community service at Food Forward?

To get started, head on over to our volunteer calendar, find an event that works for you, and submit our quick registration form to sign up. We’ll send you a confirmation email when you sign up, and a reminder email before the event. If you have any questions, you can get in touch with our volunteer team at an point by emailing volunteer@foodforward.org.

Sign Up for Community Service Opportunities

A happy Food Forward Volunteer

Thumbs Up! Photo by Zack Warburg

What is Community Service?

Community service is exactly what it sounds like: serving your community! There are so many reasons that people volunteer their time to serve their own and neighboring communities.

Whether you’re completing required volunteer hours, have some spare time, or just want to give back, everyone is welcome to volunteer. We make it easy for you to sign up and come out, and if you need proof of community service, we’re more than happy to verify the time you spend volunteering with us.

Students at the CSUN Day of Service

Where can I complete Community Service with Food Forward?

All over Southern California! You can complete community service hours at any of our food recovery events in Los Angeles or Ventura counties. We have events at different locations nearly every day of the week.

Our volunteers are out at over 20 farmers markets every week, and depending on the season, many fruit and produce harvests as well. To see all of our upcoming volunteer opportunities, check out our volunteer calendar.

How to confirm my volunteer hours?

It’s easy! Sign up for as few or as many events as you’d like on our volunteer calendar. Once you complete your required hours, send us an email at volunteer@foodforward.org. Let us know that you require proof of your community service, and we’ll send you our official form.

Please give us up to a week to process your volunteer hours form. If you know you’re going to need verification, it’s best to let us know early so that we can get it to you on time!

If you have a different form that you need us to fill out, that’s no problem either! Bring it out to each event you come to, and have your Food Forward Event Leader sign off on the date. If you have any questions, get in touch with us at volunteer@foodforward.org.

Our proof of community service volunteer hours form

Why choose Food Forward for your service project?

Why not!? Food Forward’s service events are fun, outdoor, and social. You can sign up for one event or as many as you’d like, and all of our volunteer opportunities are short and sweet as an orange. Even better, you will get to see the impact that you are making immediately. Nothing is sweeter than that!

Sign Up for Community Service Opportunities

Volunteers completing community service at a farmers market

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What is food insecurity? Food security?

October 18th, 2017

10.17.17 – Food insecurity has largely replaced hunger as the primary focus of organizing, action, and policy surrounding food access. But what is it and where does it come from?

Produce from one of our harvest gleans

 

How we define and measure food security and food insecurity

What is food insecurity?

Since we talk about food security and food insecurity quite a bit here at Food Forward, we thought it would be helpful to define both terms, what they mean, and how we measure them. Here’s our definition: food insecurity refers to a lack of access to enough good, healthy, and culturally appropriate food. There’s a lot going on there, so let’s unpack it a bit.

Enough: this one’s the easiest. Everyone needs to eat, and we all need to eat a certain amount to stay healthy, active, and happy.

Good: this is where things get a bit hairy (or pear-y). Good is a relative word. What’s good food for you might not be good food to your friend, sibling, neighbor, or co-worker. But instead of ignoring the vagueness of this term, we should embrace it! Everybody deserves to eat food that they think is good, right? Nobody should have to eat peas if they hate peas but love carrots (Mom & Dad, are you reading this?).

Healthy: we love healthy food here! Healthy food is nutritious and sustaining. It’s full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, energy, and all the other things that our bodies need to be happy.

Culturally appropriate: like “good”, this term brings us back into the subjective realm. Having access to culturally appropriate food means that people have food that they are familiar and comfortable with. It’s knowing how to shop for it or select it, prepare and cook it, and how to enjoy it! Part of this is availability of familiar foods & varieties, but it also could include things like the language of the label and instructions.

What is food security?

The definition of food security is, as you might imagine, just the opposite! Food security means having reliable access to enough good, healthy, and culturally appropriate food. It means that you or your family aren’t worried about paying for groceries, where your next meal might come from, or cutting back on food in order to pay the bills.

Food security is related to all sorts of other great and wonderful ideals like food justice, food sovereignty, and food equity. While food security is certainly a crucial part of these, concepts such as food justice and food sovereignty tend to have broader social, economic, and cultural implications. So food security is an important part of food justice, but not the whole of it.

Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust & Umma Health Clinic's Free Market

The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust & Umma Community Clinic uses produce from Food Forward’s Wholesale Recovery Program to run a free pop-up farmers market.

What’s the difference between food insecurity and hunger?

While food security and hunger are related, they are not the same. In fact, the USDA recently removed references to hunger in their food security measurements, citing the need for a separate and more detailed study on hunger. Here are some key differences between the two:

First, food security is socio-economic (financial and cultural), while hunger is physiological (physical). Studies on food security attempt to measure reliable access to food, with questions that include anxiety over shopping, budgeting for healthy meals, and running out of food. Hunger, on the other hand, is a physical sensation. We could say that hunger is one potential consequence of food insecurity, but food insecurity does not always result in hunger.

Second, we measure food security at the household level and hunger at the individual level. A family experiencing food insecurity may have some members that go hungry and others who do not. For example, parents in food insecure families might have enough food to feed their children, but might experience hunger themselves.

How do we measure food insecurity?

So, with all this talk about what it is, how do we actually measure something like food insecurity. Food Forward and most other hunger-relief nonprofits rely on measurements that the USDA conducts annually. Every year tens of thousands of households respond to their short survey, which is added onto the census.

There are only 10 questions, and an additional 8 questions for families with children. The questions ask about various indicators of food insecurity, ranging from the least severe (“We worried whether our food would run out before we got money to buy more”) to the most severe (“In the last 12 months did you or other adults in your household ever not eat for a whole day because there wasn’t enough money for food”).

Once the answers are collected, the USDA groups households into the 4 classifications of food security: high food security, marginal food security, low food security, and very low food security. Households are considered to have low food security if they reported experiencing 3 or more indicators of food insecurity. Households are considered to have very low food security if they reported 3 indicators of food insecurity AND some degree of eating less than they should / skipping meals.

A box full of tomatoes from the Farmers Market

Keeping it simple

This system of measuring food security allows families to self-report their own experiences, and also keeps the results very clear. It gives us a very simple measurement to look at: what percent of households reported 3 or more indicators of food insecurity. This keeps things easy for those of us who care – individuals, volunteers, policy makers, students, you and me – to understand.

But despite how simple it may seem, the study is actually quite complex! Years and years of research have gone into defining and refining the questions and analysis of results. While some people might think that the simplicity of the method leads to less reliable results, in fact that’s not the case at all (if you don’t believe me, you can read this 130 page statistical analysis and report!). The study keeps our understanding of food security and food insecurity clear and accurate.

Why talk about food security at all?

Food security and food insecurity are really important concepts for us to think and talk about. By moving the discussion of food policy beyond hunger (which again, refers only to a physical sensation), food insecurity captures the reality of individuals and families who struggle to get enough food.

Finally, these terms give us a working definition and standard for measurement. This allows community organizers, non-profit leaders, policy makers, and government officials to talk with each other and work together to create plans that will improve overall access to food, health, and wellness. Because even as we dive into definitions, studies, and statistics, the overall goal is to secure everyone’s right to eat well and be well.

Learn more about our fight against food insecurity

Food Forward produce at a free pop-up farmers market at Santa Monica College

Pop-up farmers market for students and community members at Santa Monica College

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New Fruitlings, welcome aboard!

October 5th, 2017

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We are completely CITRIFIED to announce that Richard Weinroth has formally joined high-level activities across Fruitland as our first Director of Programs. Richard comes to Food Forward after nearly a decade-long stint as the Foodbank Director at MEND Poverty in the San Fernando Valley. He has been like family since Food Forward co-founder Erica Kopmar first handed three boxes of fresh-picked backyard oranges to him in Lake Balboa in the summer of 2009. In addition to leading triage efforts post-Katrina in New Orleans, as well as cheffing and owning his own restaurant, Richard has hands-on experience in hunger relief.

Food Forward Executive Director Rick Nahmias explains, “Being able to bring Richard’s huge brain, heart and vision into our organization is truly a dream come true. He’s been on the sidelines of the creation and growth of all our programs, coaching and supporting us, but knowing he will now be right in the mix with us as we amp up our capacity, geographic reach and volunteer engagement, is an opportunity we are incredibly excited by and grateful for. The clincher though was his nifty Hot Wheel collection.”

 

579183_337858832936758_21317562_nRichard Weinroth at an early Food Forward fruit pick
 

“I see this as a job that I get to do, not a job that I have to do. I’ve loved what Food Forward does since our very first phone call nearly 9 years ago when, as the Foodbank Director and Chef at MEND Poverty, I showed up in my old Fiat to pick up a few boxes of freshly picked oranges, not far from where the Food Forward’s Fruit Cave now stands. I look forward to being part of Food Forward’s passionate team and working with our thousands of volunteers focused on doing our part to end food waste, and helping bring fresh and healthy food to so many families’ tables.” – Richard Weinroth

We are also excited to welcome Pamela Guerra as a full-time Development Associate. Pam comes to us after a stint at 826LA and recently graduating from UC Irvine with a master’s degree in urban and regional planning. She brings a great mind and an artistic eye to our growing development team and, from the looks of the wonderful creativity she brought to our recent staff retreat and scavenger hunt, we can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us.

“Having previously worked on the academic and policy side of food insecurity and food waste issues, I am looking forward to becoming involved with a different piece of this complex puzzle by working with an organization that rescues produce and connects it to those in need. I’m also a fairly recent transplant to Southern California, and I am excited to serve my community by helping address the very basic needs of food and nutrition.” – Pamela Guerra

 

pam-head-pineapplePamela Guerra: Head Pineapple at Food Forward’s 2017 staff retreat

Please help us welcome both these new talents to our family and feel free to drop Rich or Pam an email to say hello!

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Wasted: The Story of Food Waste

October 3rd, 2017

10.3.17 – Join us on Wednesday, October 18 for a special screening of Anthony’s Bourdain’s ‘Wasted! The Story of Food Waste’ followed by a Q&A with Food Forward Founder/Executive Director Rick Nahmias.

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WASTED!
The Story of Food Waste

A ZERO POINT ZERO FILMS PRODUCTION
WITH SUPPORT FROM THE ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION

October 18, 7:30 PM
 Laemmle Monica Film Center

 

After the screening, Former Los Angeles Times Food Writer Mary MacVean will moderate a conversation with Rick Nahmias, Founder and Executive Director of Food Forward, an organization leading the way in food recovery here in Southern California.  Joining the panel is chef, author and food activist Sammy Monsour, of Preux & Proper.
 

Reserve your tickets here!

 
STATEMENT FROM EXECUTIVE PRODUCER/NARRATOR ANTHONY BOURDAIN:

“I’m not an activist but the intent of this film aligns with something that’s very much personal. I came up in kitchen regimes where you live by an absolute rule of using everything and wasting nothing, and of course, as a traveler, I see again and again how circumstances force people to cook incredibly well with the often very little food available to them. One film isn’t going to cure all of society’s ills but if a few people start thinking about what they’re eating for dinner in a different way or think twice about throwing out what is often the best stuff, it’s a good day.”
 

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Rebuilding the lives of torture survivors

October 2nd, 2017

9.29.17 – Food Forward receiving agency Program for Torture Victims (PTV) goes above and beyond to assist a vastly underserved population: survivors of torture and persecution rebuilding their lives here, in California. A healthy diet with fresh fruits and vegetables is crucial to client recovery.

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PTV offers medical and dental services to torture survivors

 
Food Forward is proud to work with so many incredible agency partners who receive our recovered fruits and vegetables. Just in the last year, we have donated rescued produce to 166 hunger relief agencies, some of whom distribute to an additional 350 direct service agencies. Receiving produce from Food Forward means organizations are better able to meet the needs of their clients, who may not otherwise have access to the fruits and vegetables essential to a healthy diet.

One of the agencies we’ve started supporting this year, through the Farmers Market Recovery program, is the Program for Torture Victims (PTV). A Los Angeles-based agency, PTV is the first of its kind in the nation. Through their unique nonprofit model, PTV rebuilds the lives of torture survivors from over 70 countries who have stood up for freedom, democracy, and human dignity. PTV helps to heal physical and psychological wounds, making it possible for survivors to start a second life here in California and work toward a world without torture.
 

ptv1A PTV client and staff member, Claudia Vargas, share their support for the organization

 
Refugees and asylum seekers from all over the world are resettled in here in Los Angeles. Although they’re not a group we often hear about, survivors of torture are often among these populations. State-sponsored torture is used to punish, take revenge, and create terror. It’s shockingly prevalent, with over 110 countries engaging in state-sponsored torture in the last decade. PTV also assists victims of persecution, defined as systemic mistreatment or violence against a group of people. Anyone can be a victim of state-sponsored torture or persecution– people of any age, religion, race, gender, or sexuality.

PTV offers comprehensive services to its clients, including counseling, medical care, legal support, and healing groups. Now, PTV is able to supply clients with fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables each week, gleaned by Food Forward from the West Hollywood Farmers Market. Since our partnership began in July, Food Forward has recovered and donated over 1,100 pounds of fresh produce to PTV.
 

ptv-la-staffRemarkable PTV Los Angeles staff members: Claudia Vargas; Trip Oldfield; Maggie Shackelford; Dr. Cynthia Willard; Carol Gomez; and Carly Boos

 
Trip Oldfield, PTV’s Executive Director, said, “For many torture survivors, they arrive in the U.S. with little more than the clothes on their backs. Having access or the means to buy fresh fruits and vegetables is usually something out of reach, but it’s also something that’s crucial to their health and road to recovery. PTV is extremely grateful for the wonderful produce that Food Forward has made available to our clients.”

We’re honored to be a partner to a group doing such remarkable, important work in our Los Angeles community.

As part of the Food Forward family, thank you for supporting our work with impactful agencies like the Program for Torture Victims. Because of the robust food recovery community we’ve built, Food Forward is able to support survivors of torture with fresh, healthy foods as they reenter society and reclaim their identities.
 
Learn more about the Program for Torture Victims: http://ptvla.org/

Learn more about Farmers Market Recovery: https://foodforward.org/about/farmers-market/

Sign up to glean at the West Hollywood Farmers Market: https://foodforward.org/events/

 

ptv4PTV Development Director Cam Vu shares the impact of persistence

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The peaches shine: a Q&A with Mohawk Bend

September 27th, 2017

9.27.17 — As part of September’s #ProduceChange initiative, Mohawk Bend in Echo Park is offering a unique pizza to benefit Food Forward’s work to fight hunger and food waste. We chatted with Chef Drew to learn about his Peach Forward creation and why Mohawk Bend is so passionate about giving back to their community.

image6The Peach Forward pizza is available at Mohawk Bend through September. $4 from each pizza sold benefits Food Forward’s produce recovery work.


We chose peaches to kick off Produce Change because they’re so emblematic of this time of year. So, what makes Peach Forward the perfect way to enjoy peaches?

Peach Forward balances all of those sweet, end-of-summer flavors from the peaches and tomatoes with the spicy, smokiness of Chorizo de Bilbao. The peaches shine in this savory dish because their consistency allows them to hold their own next to the dense Spanish sausage and tangy, peppery layers of mozzarella, arugula and goat cheese.


Mohawk
 Bend has been quietly supporting — and drawing attention to — local nonprofits for years, every month of the calendar! We think Piece of the Pie is such a cool project. What’s been the most rewarding part of organizing that initiative? Have there been any challenges?

The most rewarding part is connecting our favorite organizations with our guests! We love to share and celebrate the amazing work happening in our community.The only challenge is choosing who to highlight each month. There’s so much good happening all over Los Angeles.


We were fortunate enough to be a Piece of the Pie recipient all the way back in 2013, so clearly, you’re a fan! What excites you about Food Forward?

Everything! We love your mission, values and ethos Your mission aligns so well with our values. We hope everyone in Los Angeles (and beyond!) discovers your food rescue and hunger-fighting program.

 

Your support of Food Forward is just one part of your larger effort to build a better world — to produce change — through the food you serve. How else does Mohawk Bend share this ethos with its customers?

As a neighborhood business we believe in supporting our local economy and other businesses with values similar to ours. This means, whenever possible, local vendors get first priority. As such, we are proud to source our menu from an array of local brewers, regional farmers and thoughtful California makers.

 

Click here to learn about Produce Change!

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“Good Things Come in Small Packages”

September 25th, 2017

9.26.17 – If you’ve been at the Burbank Farmers Market in the past year and a half, there’s a good chance you’ve seen our Volunteer of the Month for September: Justin Chang. Justin has been a key figure at the Burbank Farmers Market since he became a Glean Team Leader back in April 2016. He’s a rock-solid volunteer (he even brings his younger brother with him) who’s always excited to teach new volunteers, and he knows how to engage volunteers of all experience levels and ages. In a pinch, Justin has helped us out with special requests, group events, or last-minute schedule changes, and we feel really lucky to have him!!!

Justin leads a volunteer team at the market

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

I was looking for volunteering opportunities in the LA area and came across Food Forward. Food Forward’s volunteering opportunities appealed to me because I had never participated in any gleaning.

My first volunteer day at the Larchmont Farmers Market was filled with new experiences. It was my first time at Larchmont, my first trip to a farmers market, and my first time gleaning. All of these gave me a glimpse as to how volunteering with Food Forward could enrich my life while providing me with the opportunity to help give back to society.

The volunteer experience is an embodiment of the idiom “good things come in small packages”. While our actions may seem basic (e.g. greeting the market team, giving out Food Forward boxes, connecting with the drivers from the receiving agencies), their significance lies in how they impact others.

Gleaning events at the farmers markets provide opportunities for people to show the market team, farmers, and receiving agencies our appreciation for their time and effort, and our willingness to help ease their burdens by redirecting excess food from the farmers markets to the receiving agencies.

“The volunteer experience is an embodiment of the idiom ‘good things come in small packages’. While our actions may seem basic, their significance lies in how they impact others.”

Boxes filled with apples

Good things do come in small packages

What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?

Food Forward’s efforts to reduce food waste and support hunger relief greatly contribute to improving society, especially those in need, and I wanted to help Food Forward accomplish this goal.

What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?

My favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward is meeting and learning from everyone at the market. The market team helps me understand the logistics behind running and managing a famers market, such as how they accommodate for food stamps. The farmers provide me with new perspectives and values and give me a better understanding of life as a farmer.

I learned about the local resources that are available, including the farmers market itself, and the receiving agencies that provide hunger relief. Through my interactions with the market team and the farmers, I have learned about many aspects of a farmer’s lifestyle and the farmer-market dynamics.

My fellow volunteers have provided me with knowledge from a wide range of topics regarding their education, jobs, and cultures. They come from different walks of life, and I have learned new things from each of them, including the cultural and educational differences between the US and Brazil and the challenges of owning a startup company.

Volunteering with Food Forward has allowed me to expand my horizons through the people I meet while gleaning.

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

One day, while preparing to start the farmers market glean, a customer from the market approached us and provided us with a bag of produce. Apparently, she learned about Food Forward and its mission when she observed the previous week’s glean and was inspired to donate fruit from her own backyard tree.

This moment helped me realize that Food Forward’s influence is not limited to the farmers market, but can be cultivated through the market’s customers, inspiring others to find ways to reduce food waste and help provide for those in need.

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

I am a clinical research coordinator working on clinical research trials and quality improvement projects aimed to reduce the spread of multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs) across hospitals and nursing homes in Orange County, CA. MDROs are bacteria that have developed resistance against certain antibiotics, reducing the number of available treatment options and increasing the burden on patients, their families, and medical facilities. We help reduce the spread of MDROs by helping medical facilities adopt a decolonization strategy that has been proven to reduce MDRO-related infections in ICUs.

justin-chang-volunteer-of-the-month

Any words of wisdom you live by?

“I’ll do everything humanly possible to protect the people I love, and in turn they’ll protect the ones they love.”

To me, my biggest regret would be if someone I cared about was unable to do something they wanted to because I was unable to assist, whether it is due to a lack of resources, knowledge, or opportunities. To prevent this, I aim to accumulate as much knowledge, skills, and experience as I can in order to reach a position that would allow me to provide for those I cared for and help them attain their goals.

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