National Volunteer Week

April 17th, 2018

April 17, 2018 — National Volunteer Week is April 15-April 21, 2018 and we’re taking time this week to show some extra appreciation to all of our amazing volunteers!

23,000 hours!

That’s how many hours our volunteers collectively gave in service in 2017. Those hours were spent gleaning all sorts of produce (and bread!) at farmers markets, poking pickers into the highest branches at our backyard harvests, and sorting through pallet-loads of produce at our direct distributions.

 

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Last year, our volunteers covered vast swaths of Southern California, harvesting and gleaning as far north as Santa Barbara and as far east as Riverside. They powered an average of 175 produce recovery and gleaning events per month, and these events ranged in size from our annual Cal State University Northridge orange grove picks with 400+ volunteers to small groups of 3 and 4 at farmers markets to solo harvests.

We’ve said it before but we really couldn’t do what we do without the help of all of our volunteers.

This week, we want to highlight some quotes and stories from volunteers.

 

I volunteer because…

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Remhai volunteered for the first time at our direct distribution free farmers market at the Watts Labor Community Action Committee. She says, “I volunteer because I want to be one person that contributes to making the world better. There are so many people that need help, and not enough people helping.”

 

 

 

 

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Kathy is a long time Farmers Market Glean Team Leader and Backyard Harvest Pick Leader, mostly leading backyard harvests in the Valley. She says that after volunteering for the first time with Food Forward, she was drawn back because it “felt that it was really productive [when] we actually had something to show for our work.”

 

 

 

 

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On his motivation to continue volunteering with Food Forward, Olu says, “It gives me such an incredible joy to know that we’re doing something that makes somebody happy.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Bianca volunteered with her company and says, “Volunteering just sort of fills my well and rejuvenates me to get back to regular work.”

 

 

 

 

Going Above and Beyond

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Our volunteers go above and beyond to get the job done! Food Forward Ventura Branch Supervisor Ally shared these stories about volunteer dedication and hard work:

John, who has been running a few community garden plots at Cornucopia Community Garden for Food Forward since May of 2016 (and volunteering at farm gleans and solo pick prior), has harvested over 4,000 lbs of fresh produce that he has grown by hand. All of the produce that John has grown has gone to serve Project Understanding, one of his local food pantries.

Joyce harvested 10 boxes of grapefruit in the rain, shoved them into her small SUV and delivered them to her local pantry. This was during just one of the 15 events she has led since the beginning of 2018.

 

d9713b39-32db-4857-a39a-4497169a6f18-croppedAnd volunteer Leticia braved some prickly tree climbs to harvest more than 80 pounds of lemons and tangerines by herself!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Big Thank you!

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We will be sharing volunteer stories on Instagram and Facebook this week so make sure to follow along!

Thank you again to all of our wonderful volunteers for bringing their time, energy, and passion to all of our events. We couldn’t do it without you!

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Earth Day is almost here!

April 3rd, 2018

4.3.18 — April is finally here, and we’re looking forward to Earth Day on April 22nd for a whole range of environmental awareness activities and volunteer opportunities.

History of Earth Day

The idea for Earth Day was conceived in 1970 by then-U.S. senator Gaylord Nelson. After witnessing the catastrophic consequences of the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA, Nelson pushed for a day that would bring issues about water and air pollution to the forefront of the national conversation through a “national teach-in on the environment” modeled on Vietnam War protests. More than 20 million Americans took part in protests and rallies across the nation, and by the end of the year, this increased public pressure led to the creation of the first U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. 

Now nearing its 50th anniversary, Earth Day has spread to 193 countries worldwide and is often celebrated as Earth Week to encompass even more activities calling attention to environmental issues.

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Why is Earth Day important?

Earth Day is an opportunity to bring global awareness to issues that affect the planet that we share, from deforestation and polluted waterways, to energy consumption and resource use and beyond. Earth Day gives individuals, companies, non-profits, and organizations a day to call attention to these issues and push for policy changes that will benefit the environment.

 

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Ways to honor Earth Day

Here are some simple ways to honor Earth Day this month and all year-round!

Recycle your e-waste: Got old printers? Phones? Batteries? The EPA calculates that e-waste is quickly becoming the largest waste-stream in the world. Find a responsible e-waste recycler in your area to keep these items out of landfills.

Invest in some reusable bags: The focus of Earth Day 2018 is ending plastic pollution. You can help by switching from single-use plastic bags to reusable fabric bags to tote your groceries home.

Leave the car at home: Find ways to take alternative transportation such as walking, biking, or public transit to get to your destination and leave your car at home for a day. An added bonus: you might get to see parts of your city you don’t normally explore.

Get out and explore: If you’re in the Los Angeles region, the Santa Monica Mountains and San Gabriel Mountains offer plenty of opportunity for hiking, playing, and exploring to take in the beauty of the natural world and remind us what we’re fighting to protect. Find a way to get outside in your own town!

Curb food waste: In 2017, Food Forward’s programs offset 6,996 tons of CO2 by rescuing produce that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill. Volunteer with Food Forward at a fruit pick, farmers market glean, or produce distribution to get your hands dirty and fight food waste. 

Learn more!

https://www.epa.gov/earthday

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/earth-day

https://www.earthday.org/

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The State of Hunger

March 20th, 2018

“…the suffering inherent in hunger is preventable and unnecessary in a society well supplied, oversupplied with food.” – Janet Poppendieck, Sweet Charity

In this post, we’ll break down hunger in the United States today from a policy & practical perspective, with three main topics:

1) What the White House is doing and saying about hunger right now
2) Current facts & statistics about food insecurity in nation, state, and county
3) Food Forward’s fight against hunger in Southern California

 

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White House Hunger Policy

Last month, the White House unveiled its budget proposal for 2019. The proposal would make sharp cuts to domestic programs, while at the same time increasing military spending and enlarging the federal deficit by $7 trillion (Source: New York Times).

This blueprint from the executive branch comes as no surprise: In the first year of the Trump presidency, Americans have seen attacks on access to food, food safety protections, school nutrition standards, healthy and sustainable farming practices, and rights for workers in the food industry (Source: State of the Plate). Many Americans live with uncertainty and fear about the state of our nation’s social safety net. This administration also repeats common myths about hunger, including the myth that government food assistance rewards laziness. In reality, the average benefit of SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or “food stamps”) works out to only $1.40 per person, per meal and includes work or volunteering requirements (Source: MAZON).

In this latest budget proposal, the While House suggests cutting SNAP funding by over 30% in the next decade, increasing work requirements for those receiving government food benefits, and limiting SNAP recipients’ ability to choose the food they buy (Source: New York Times). The White House states that SNAP reforms will “target benefits to the neediest households” without explaining who is actually going hungry in our communities, or considering the root causes of hunger (Source: The White House).

 

We’d like to talk about all of the people, ALL around us, who experience food insecurity.
Who are the people going hungry?
And what does that mean for
Food Forward’s work here, in Southern California?

 

How many people are hungry in the U.S.?

The United States Department of Agriculture reports that in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, 12.3% of Americans (over 41 million people) were food insecure, “meaning they lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members” (Source: USDA). This statistic is right around where it was in 2015: 12.7% (Source: USDA).

 

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Who are the people experiencing high rates of hunger?

Households with children experienced higher rates of food insecurity, at nearly 17% (Source: USDA). There were other kinds of households that experienced higher-than-average rates of food insecurity, too: households with incomes near or below the poverty line; households with children headed by single women or single men; women or men living alone; Black- and Hispanic-headed households; and households in rural areas OR principal cities of metropolitan areas (like Los Angeles, in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area) (Source: USDA).

In the U.S., other groups experiencing disproportionately high food insecurity rates include LGBT adults (29% of whom have struggled to feed themselves or their families); veterans (27% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have struggled to put food on the table); college students (approximately half of whom are food insecure); and community college students in particular (nearly two-thirds of whom struggle with food insecurity) (Sources: UCLA School of Law, Journal of Public Health and Nutrition, Broton & Goldrick-Rab, and Wisconsin HOPE Lab).

 

How many people are hungry in California?

Food insecurity varies widely by state, between 8% and 19%. In California, food security hovers slightly lower than the national average (Source: USDA).

According to Feeding America’s annual Map the Meal Gap project, 12.5% of Californians, or 4.9 million people, were food insecure across the state in 2015 (Source: Feeding America). More than 1.2 million people are going hungry Los Angeles County, where Food Forward is based (Source: Feeding America). Los Angeles County is home to the most food insecure children of any county in the country—over 480,000 children (Source: Feeding America).

 

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What does all of this mean for Food Forward’s work?

The body of research on hunger shows that all kinds of people are hungry – those in rural and urban areas; people in single households and households with children; people of color; those who have served in the military; and many, many more.

In 2017, Food Forward donated surplus produce to 225 primary hunger relief partners across the social service sector in Southern California. These local direct service agencies are uniquely situated to fight hunger in the geographies we serve because they understand the needs of their own communities best. By forging relationships with a variety of agencies, Food Forward supplies nutritious produce to the diverse communities of Southern California through a wide array of hunger relief models.

Although the February White House budget proposal is just that — a proposal — enacting food assistance cuts on the scale suggested would necessarily result in nonprofits and charities filling the gaps in America’s safety net. Creating meaningful partnerships to serve communities most impacted by food security would become more important than ever. Food Forward believes that access to fresh, healthy food is a human right, and will continue to forge partnerships to make food assistance possible.

 

Ways to help:

Volunteer with Food Forward

Donate surplus fruit

Support food recovery

 

Resources on hunger in the United States:

Food Policy Action Education Fund’s State of the Plate

USDA: Household Food Security in the United States in 2016

Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap (current data from 2015)

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Produce of the Month: Bok Choy!

March 13th, 2018

3.14.18Bok choy! This leafy green vegetable is fun to say and one of the easiest to cook. Read on to learn more about its history and get some recipe ideas below.

Bok choy on wood chopping boardPhoto courtesy of Girl Cooks World

 

Background & History

A member of the cruciferous family of vegetables (which includes broccoli, cabbage, and kale, among others) bok choy has often been overshadowed by its trendier and more accessible siblings. But bok choy is slowly gaining recognition for its nutritional value, subtle, crisp taste, and endless versatility. All the makings of the next kale…

This Chinese vegetable has long been a staple in Asian cooking (Japanese, Korean, Thai etc.) and its cultivation dates back almost 6,000 years, making it one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in Asia. The name originates from the Cantonese words for white (bok) and cabbage (choy). It was introduced to the U.S. in the 19th century by Chinese immigrants but has only recently become more widely available in American supermarkets. Bok choy is available all year round but hits peak harvest season in winter.

 

Fun facts

– Bok choy can be found spelled in a number of different ways, often being sold as bok choi, pak choi, Chinese cabbage, Chinese white cabbage, Chinese mustard, Chinese mustard cabbage…

– It is extremely nutrient dense— it has been named #2 out of 41 nutrient-rich plants by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

– One cup of bok choy has 34% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin C and a full day’s intake of Vitamin A

– You can also find baby bok choy, which are a cultivar that mature quickly and remain more compact, and are more tender and sweeter

– Bok choy can be prepared very simply for its flavor to shine: wash thoroughly, pluck the leaves, stir-fry or steam in a skillet with some oil, garlic, and salt, and you’re done!

 

Recipe

Spicy Potato, Bok Choy, and Shallot Hash Recipe (taken from Serious Eats)
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free


By Kenji Alt-Lopez

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Ingredients:

– 1/2 pound (about 2 medium) russet potatoes, peeled, split into quarter lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch slices

– 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided

– 1 large shallot, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)

– 1/2 pound baby bok choy, rinsed, dried, trimmed, and roughly chopped into 1/2-inch pieces(see note)

– 1 finely sliced serrano or Thai bird chili

– 1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Frank’s RedHot), or more to taste

– Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

– 2 eggs

– Hot sauce, Sambal Oelek, or hot pepper relish for serving.

 

Directions:

1. Place potatoes in as thin a layer as possible on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with paper towel and microwave on high power until heated through but still slightly undercooked, about 2 1/2 minutes.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 10-inch cast iron or non-stick skillet over high heat until lightly smoking. Add potatoes and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until well browned on about half of all surfaces, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat if smoking heavily.

3. Add shallot and bok choy. Continue to cook, tossing and stirring occasionally, until vegetables are all well browned and charred in spots, about 4 minutes longer. Add sliced chili and hot sauce. Cook, stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer hash to a warm serving platter and keep warm

4. Wipe out skillet and add remaining teaspoon oil. Heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add eggs and cook until desired level of doneness is reached. Season with salt and pepper. Place eggs on top of has and serve immediately with hot sauce, Sambal Oelek, or hot pepper relish.

 

References

https://foodfacts.mercola.com/bok-choy.html

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=152

https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2014/13_0390.htm

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When It All Makes Sense…

March 5th, 2018

Meet our Volunteer of the Month:
Barbara Daouda!

While a regular volunteer since 2016, Barbara found that there weren’t a lot of harvests in her area so she took matters into her own hands and, with a little encouragement, trained to be a Pick Leader this past October. Since training, she has travelled all over Fruitland, from Culver City to Goleta, leading harvests and rescuing fruit. Barbara always comes through in a pinch and has become a go-to leader in both Ventura and LA County. We are extremely lucky to have such a reliable leader who is always ready for a harvest – wherever it may be.

Food Forward's Volunteer of the Month, Barbara

How did you learn about Food Forward?

I learned about Food Forward from a friend who posted a picture on Facebook of her volunteering at a pick. I asked her to tell me more about it, checked out the website and signed up for a pick. My first pick was a lemon pick at Bentwood led by Lynda Gorov. I was really impressed with how well everything was organized and how easy it was to volunteer.

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

The program made sense to me. Picking fruit someone cannot use and making it available to those in need means both sides benefit. It’s a perfect match. Having grown up on a farm, I know how much work it takes to grow things and I don’t like wasting food. That’s why Food Forward’s programs resonated with me.

What is your favorite part of the Food Forward experience?

My favorite part of the Food Forward experience are the picks. There is something very satisfying about picking ripe fruit and knowing that someone will get to enjoy it.

How did you become a Food Forward Pick Leader?

I volunteered on and off for a couple of years, but was finding it hard to find picks in my area. I mentioned this to the leader on one of the picks and he encouraged me to step up to be a pick leader. It sounded like too much to take on at first so I didn’t commit right away. After a few weeks, I filled out an application, got trained by Ally, the Ventura County Supervisor, and before I knew it, I was scouting properties and leading picks.

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

I already knew I would enjoy the picks, but I also met some amazing people along the way from volunteers to office staff to homeowners, everyone has been wonderful to interact with. I’m not the most outgoing person, but everyone in the program is very approachable and friendly. I’m loving the whole experience.

What do you do when you’re not volunteering?

When I’m not volunteering, I work for a real estate company. I love to cook, garden, travel and spend time outdoors, ideally with my 15 year old son.

Volunteers at a fruit harvest

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Celebrating 50 Million Pounds Recovered and Donated!

February 27th, 2018

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On February 23, 2018, Food Forward supporters, staff, and volunteers gathered at the Franklin Canyon Orange Grove in Beverly Hills to celebrate a milestone 50 million pounds of produce recovered and donated! Over the last 9 years, we’ve celebrated milestones such as our first 1 million pounds, hitting 10 million pounds., etc, but 50 million feels like we’re taking things to a whole new level. This celebration was an opportunity to look back on what we’ve accomplished and thank those who’ve lent an incredible amount of hard work and support for what we do.

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Remarks were made by Rick Nahmias, Founder and Executive Director of Food Forward, Nancy Volpert, Director of Public Policy & Strategic Initiatives of JFS SOVA and Food Forward Board Member, Michael Fleming, Executive Director of the David Bohnett Foundation, Judith Kieffer, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Parks Foundation, Jackie Keene, the District Director for LA City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, Mark Brown, District Representative from Senator Herzberg’s Office of the 18th State Senate District, Jeanalee Obergfell, Senior Policy Analyst in Sustainability in the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, Andre Villasenor, Environmental Protection Specialist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Commissioner Heather Repenning, the Vice President of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works.

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We had so many Food Forward friends join us– those who have been with the organization from the beginning, new supporters, board members, former staff members, old interns, and even a couple of babies! It was great to see everyone come together to celebrate this amazing milestone.

The orange grove was looking particularly abundant on this sunny and windy morning, which was perfect for our celebratory orange harvest (those next 50 million pounds aren’t going to pick themselves!) where everyone had the opportunity to get their hands dirty. Together, we gleaned more than 1,500 pounds of oranges. Back in 2009, Jewish Family Service’s SOVA was the very first agency to receive produce from Food Forward, and on Friday, they received our 50 millionth pound. We love that things have come full circle, and we’re looking forward to the next 50 million pounds and beyond!

Read about it on LAmag.com!

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Farm to Table: Helen Albert Farmers Market to Seeds of Hope

February 12th, 2018

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“Food brings everyone together.” This is what drives Erica Nieves of Seeds of Hope in her work every day. It’s one thing everyone has in common; we all need to eat to survive.

Everyday in Los Angeles thousands of pounds of food are thrown out, while thousands of people go to bed hungry.

Every week, Food Forward collects donations from over 270 vendors across 23 Farmers Markets to bridge this gap. The donations are then distributed to hunger relief agencies and social service organizations. Seeds of Hope is one of the agencies that receives produce from the Helen Albert Certified Farmers’ Market in West Hollywood on Mondays.

Based in Echo Park, Seeds of Hope is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles that creates gardens and garden-based programs throughout Los Angeles County and serves food insecure  members of the community. Thanks to the donations from farmers market vendors collected by Food Forward volunteers, Erica and Seeds of Hope are able to provide people with resources that are limited in the area.

I had the chance to follow the produce as it moved from the market to the relief agency and into people’s hands, and speak to Erica about the work of Seeds of Hope.  

 

THE PICK UP

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It’s Monday afternoon at the  Helen Albert Certified Farmers’ Market. Things begin slow as the 1 pm approaches, signaling the start of the gleaning hour. During this hour, Food Forward gleaners in aprons can be spotted pushing carts down the market aisles collecting filled boxes of produce. Earlier, volunteers distributed empty boxes to vendors who had indicated they would have extra produce.  Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pounds of produce that would otherwise been discarded is instead sorted by Food Forward volunteers and donated to Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition and Seeds of Hope. This particular week the boxes are brimming with summer squash, tomatoes, oranges, lettuce, turnips, carrots and stone fruit.

THE DISTRIBUTION

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On Tuesday evening, Seeds of Hope distributes this week’s donation  outside a laundromat in Echo Park. I arrive, dodging people left and right trying to find a spot near the entrance and notice the line already wraps around the building. Erica explains that tonight is their Laundry Love event where twice a month, the laundromat offers free laundry all day to the public.

We set up near the entrance in order to hand out fresh produce to anyone who passes by. People walk by, hesitatingly peering into the bins of apples and squash, and Erica encourages them to take as much as they’d like and reminds them that it’s all free!

“This is amazing,” a woman exclaimed in disbelief as she filled a bag with produce. Erica tells me that for some people, this may be the only fresh produce they eat this week.

Seeds of Hope occasionally hosts cooking nights where community members are invited to learn new ways to cook with their produce. As Erica says, “We use things people don’t know [about] and make a recipe out of it so the community knows how to cook it when they take it home.”  By connecting the produce to different recipes and methods of preparation, people are able to better utilize the food and its nutritional value.

Bringing fresh produce into this area has helped increased availability and created a more healthy community. Erica expresses her gratitude, “Thanks to the donations from Food Forward we’re able to hand out a lot more!”

-Written by Linnea Mack, FMR Summer 2017 Program Assistant

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Hey South Bay! Our Harvest Program is coming to you!

January 31st, 2018

1.31.18 – Have you been looking at our volunteer calendar and bemoaning the lack of fruit picks in your neighborhood? Do you live in Palos Verdes? Torrance? Perhaps Manhattan Beach? If we’re anywhere close, then we have got some exciting news for you:

Backyard Fruit Harvesting is coming to the South Bay!

Two happy fruit picking volunteers

Food Forward in the South Bay

Food Forward has been serving the South Bay for years. Every week our volunteers are out collecting produce at the Torrance Farmers Market and Long Beach Marina Farmers Market, and we work with an awesome group of South Bay hunger-relief agencies. Kicking off 2018, we are proud to announce that our Backyard Harvest Program is now putting down roots along the coast from Long Beach to Manhattan Beach.

With the helping hands of our amazing volunteers, in 2017 the Backyard Harvest Program harvested over 350,000 pounds of fresh produce throughout Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Riverside & San Bernardino counties. We know there is still more fruit out there, and can’t wait to start picking fruit with all of our South Bay supporters!

Help us spread the word!

We are seeking homeowners with fruit trees and folks interested in volunteering at upcoming harvest events. If you live or know people in the region, please post on NextDoor or social media outlets to help us spread the word.

Spread the Word!

Volunteer in the South Bay!

Check out our volunteer calendar to see upcoming volunteer opportunities around the region. You can also attend our South Bay Volunteer Orientation on Saturday, Feburary 10 to learn more.

Sign up for our upcoming Volunteer Orientation

Food Forward volunteers with a wall of fruit boxes

If you have questions about our Backyard Harvest Program, or how to get involved in the South Bay, you can always reach out to our team at volunteer@foodforward.org. Can’t wait to see you out there!

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Got Fruit Goggles?

January 11th, 2018

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That’s right, citrus season is here and we need your help to make sure every fruit tree owner in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties know they have options for their seasonal abundance. Sharing our work is as easy as a post on social media, NextDoor.com, or in your local community or homeowner association newsletter. We have even sample text for you to use, but feel free to share your own story about why you think it’s important to donate your extra fruit to Food Forward – and why others should too!

We are especially looking for new properties in these areas: San Gabriel Valley, South Bay, Ventura County, West Los Angeles, and South Los Angeles.

Here are some sample scripts and photos for you to use if interested in posting to spread the word about Food Forward to others in your community! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to harvest@foodforward.org

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NextDoor.com

Hi Neighbor,

Do you have fruit trees? If you can’t eat all of the fruit 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.

To register your fruit tree, please visit foodforward.org/fruittrees. You can also email harvest@foodforward.org for more information.

To learn more about how to get involved as a harvest volunteer or event leader, please visit https://foodforward.org/volunteer/volunteer-positions/.

Thank you!

 

Facebook or Instagram

Find Food Forward on Facebook at foodforwardla and on Instagram at foodforward – be sure to tag us in your post!

Got fruit trees? Can’t eat all of the fruit? Do what I do and 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 foodforward.org/fruittrees to become a fruit donor.

 

Newsletter

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 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 foodforward.org/fruittrees, call the fruitline: 818 530 4125 or email harvest@foodforward.org. If you would like to volunteer with Food Forward, sign up at www.foodforward.org/volunteer.

 

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How you can help those impacted by the Thomas Fire

December 21st, 2017

Support Relief efforts across Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties to provide support to our Southern California neighbors.

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Feeding the firemen fighting the Thomas Fire: José Andrés of World Central Kitchen hands out Ojai-grown tangerines from Churchill Orchards collected by Food Forward.

 

The Thomas Fire is something that we Southern Californians always knew in the back of our minds could happen, but we likely never really thought it would happen to us. Yet it did. And what we witnessed in the face of crisis is a strong, resilient, compassionate, and proud community. Food Forward would like to recognize that, as a community partner in Ventura for the last 7 years, we are in this together, with you all.

As the Thomas Fire continues to burn in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, displacing many of our Food Forward family and impacting the entire region, many of our produce recovery events in the area have been postponed in respect to those who have been affected and in response to poor air quality. All harvests will be postponed until the New Year, and farmers market gleans will happen on a case-by-case basis.

This tragic event has left a scar on our community, and it will continue to impact the Ventura Branch and our friends in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. In the coming weeks, Food Forward will be working with regional partners to establish a coordinated response; one that considers the long-term effort of supporting those affected while rebuilding our community. We will keep you posted as these opportunities emerge and when there are ways for you to get involved. Thank you to those who have already helped out with Emergency Relief in some way. For those of you looking to get involved now, we can recommend a few things:
FINANCIAL DONATIONS 

Our friends at the United Way of Ventura County are accepting donations for fire victims in Ventura County. You can also donate directly to victims on Go Fund Me. 
NON-FINANCIAL DONATIONS

The Red Cross has been inundated with donation items, and volunteers are sorting through these piles of generosity. Before collecting all of the unwanted items in your house and dropping them off at a site, please check to see what can be of use. You can call the local Red Cross at 805-987-1514.
VOLUNTEER

The Red Cross – providing evacuation centers for displaced community members.
World Central Kitchen – cooking and distributing meals to 2,000 evacuees and first responders twice daily.
Food Bank of Santa Barbara County – distributing emergency food to those in need for the entire week.
L.A. Kitchen – organizing volunteers, food donors, and chefs to to help prepare wholesome, healthy meals for Californians affected by the wildfires.

We also recommend reaching out to your local church and community organizations, as many of them will take on the sustained relief effort for those impacted.
If you have ideas and or specific ways that you think we can make the most impact in Ventura County, please contact our VC Branch Office at 805-630-2728. We will be back in action with regular events as soon as the dust settles. We hope that you can take this down time from harvesting food to help with disaster relief.

**If you or another member of the Food Forward family was impacted by the fire, let us know. We would love to support in any way possible.**

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