Thank you, volunteers!

April 11th, 2019

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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Making a difference starts at home

March 21st, 2019

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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Accelerating food access with AHA Teaching Gardens

March 20th, 2019

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

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9 Organizations fighting for Food Justice in Southern California

March 8th, 2019

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

 

1. Seeds of Hope:

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

 

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

 

2. Los Angeles Food Policy Council

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

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

 

3. LA Compost

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

 

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

 

4. FEAST

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

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

 

5. Food Finders

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

 

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

 

6. Garden School Foundation

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

 

7. Social Justice Learning Institute

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

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

 

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

 

8. Food Recovery Network

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

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

 

9. Riverside Food Systems Alliance:

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

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

 

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From frequent gleaner to Glean Team Leader!

February 20th, 2019

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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Making a big impact in a short time

January 25th, 2019

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

 

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


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


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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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Reflecting on our first decade and looking towards the next

January 17th, 2019

The first pick happened 10 years ago on January 17, 2009 and was led by Food Forward Founder/Executive Director Rick Nahmias (far left)

 

Dear Fruit Family,

Ten years is a heady milestone for any organization, especially one started with a simple desire to solve a local problem through grassroots efforts. We are somewhat baffled and very proud to announce that we turn ten today!

In early 2009 I noticed fruit rotting in my neighbor’s yards, while also hearing of growing lines at food pantries due to the cratering economy. I recruited a single volunteer (remember Craig’s List?!) and decided to harvest my neighbor Heather’s ridiculously abundant tangerine and navel orange trees to do some good. The result: 3 weekends of tree climbing cloaked in the perfume of California citrus, and a yield of 800 pounds of fruit. That soon grew into 100,000 pounds of hand-harvested fruit by the end of our first year.

Flash forward to 2019, when Food Forward recovers an average of 100,000 pounds of fresh produce every day. 100% of these fruits and vegetables go completely free of charge to food insecure folks across the region. What a long, strange, and wonderful journey it’s been! 

The “now and then” is a bit mind-spinning, but here are some highlights.

 

In 2009:

· 4 co-founders and a few dozen volunteers
· Produce only came from backyard harvests
· 5 agencies received our almost exclusively-citrus donations
· There was no staff, vehicles, or office
· For much of the year we had no website, ways to raise funds, or even a name

 

And today:

· 4,000+ volunteers engaged in 2018 

· 5 thriving programs: Backyard Harvest, Farmers Market Recovery, Wholesale Recovery, kNOw Waste, and our newest, Produce Pick-Ups

· 22.5 million pounds of produce recovered in 2018

· 1,800 agencies served across 8 SoCal counties and beyond

· 30 staff and a fleet of 7 vehicles

· Produce recovered for an average of $.09/pound

· Our environmental impact was the equivalent of taking 2,012 cars off the road in 2018

· An estimated 2 million people will receive fruits and vegetables recovered by Food Forward’s programs in 2019

Explore our brand new 10-year timeline to take a look at our journey!

 

In many ways, it feels like we’re just beginning. But as is our namesake – it’s about looking forward.  

This past weekend we gathered to launch a formal strategic planning process to create the vision for our next five years in Fruitland.  And while it’s too early to tell exactly where we will go, I can say our first and foremost priority is to grow deeper roots to bring food insecure communities and individuals more free, healthy produce.

To accomplish this, we’ll harvest more backyard trees in Fruitland, plant Glean Teams at more farmers markets, distribute more fruits and vegetables via Produce Pick-Ups in underserved neighborhoods, and grow our Wholesale Produce Recovery program with the aid of a new Produce Depot.

This work couldn’t have happened without an incredibly receptive and participatory community supporting us. As we blow out our birthday candles, we have you all to thank for inspiring us to keep dreaming and actualizing what a healthy, food waste-free Southern California can look like.

To show the gratitude we feel for you, the community from which we sprouted, we gift this brand new video (below) produced with Serena Creative to be shown in Laemmle Theatres throughout February. We hope it reflects even a tiny bit of what makes this anniversary such a beautiful and humbling milestone to have reached.   

Thank you, and here’s to another decade of sharing abundance!

Rick Nahmias
Founder/Executive Director

 

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Food Foward turns 10!

January 17th, 2019

We mark the anniversary by signing the lease for our Produce Depot near DTLA. This new warehouse space will enable Food Forward to recover and donate 40 million pounds of produce each year, doubling its current produce recovery efforts. The 6,000 square foot Produce Depot will expand our capacity with refrigeration, dry storage, workspace for staff, a new software system to track produce, food recovery equipment, and two new box trucks

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Food Forward holds 2,280 volunteer-powered events

December 31st, 2018

4,050 individuals volunteer with Food Forward in 2018, and give 23,240 hours of their time to help us fight hunger and food waste.

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Food Waste, by the Numbers

December 1st, 2018

In 2012, the NRDC released a report titled “Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill.” This report had some of the first national statistics on food waste — it’s where that familiar “40% of all food produced is wasted” statistic comes from. The authors outlined the costs of food waste, from economic losses to resource inputs to greenhouse gas emissions. The report also helped to get a lot of people thinking about food waste, the choices we all make, and some solutions to the problem. Last year, the follow up to the 2012 report was published with new data, gaps identified, and solutions. We thought we would update our food waste resources with these new findings.

 

Beautiful vegetables sit in a dumpster at the LA Wholesale Produce Market. Up to 5% of food is
rejected outright by buyers at wholesale markets. 

New standards and goals

Since the 2012 report, much more research has been done on the topic of food waste, and the Food Loss and Waste Protocol created standards for quantifying food waste, making data comparison a possibility. Following the release of the report, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set a goal to cut food waste by 50% by 2030, nationwide. The EPA states that it plans to work with food system leaders across multiple sectors to promote action and improve tools for reducing waste. The EPA also put out a “Call to Action” to stakeholders and held a Food Recovery Summit, where 6 key activities were defined by participants. Two of the activities were to increase public awareness and build food loss and waste infrastructures, which Food Forward is proud to do everyday.

Impacts of food waste

“Wasted” focuses on the environmental consequences of food waste, and breaks it down by impact on our ecosystems and climate.

Water:  We use a significant amount of our freshwater supply to grow food in the United States, and because we don’t end up eating up to 40% of our food, a lot of water is wasted in food production. According to the report, 21 to 33 percent of U.S. agricultural water use goes to food that is ultimately wasted.

Land: Similarly, we need land to produce food, yet much of that food never makes it to a table. About 18 to 28 percent of our viable cropland is attributed to growing wasted food.

Landfills: Go to any landfill and you will see a lot of food that Americans throw away—21 percent of municipal solid waste, to be exact. We send more food to landfills and incinerators than any other material. On the individual scale, the average American tosses 210-250 pounds of food annually, or about 720 calories per day.

Climate: All throughout the production chain, we use energy, create fertilizer runoff, and emit carbon as we grow, process, and transport wasted food. Each of these links has consequences for our climate system, including the final destination of uneaten food. When food goes to landfills, it cannot decompose naturally (as it would in a compost pile), and releases highly potent methane gas. Wasted food is responsible for at least 11 percent of all landfill-generated methane emissions, a conservative estimate.

 

Food is wasted at every stage from farm to table. Up to 20% of food grown is never sold due to cosmetic or size standards.

Gaps and losses

The NRDC report also outlines where food is wasted at each stage in the production chain. It all starts on the farm: the USDA estimates that about 4 percent, or 66,500 acres of planted crops are left unharvested each year. And even more produce is rejected due to cosmetic standards. A study in Minnesota found that up to 20 percent of fruits and vegetables are too large, small, or don’t otherwise meet cosmetic standards, and thus aren’t viable.

Manufacturing and processing food (such as canning, freezing, drying, and precutting) creates about four percent in food losses across all types of food. Produce processing is actually quite efficient, and does not produce a significant amount of wasted food. In addition, many food processing operations divert their food scraps to become animal feed or other nonfood products, such as compost.

Food is also wasted at the distribution stage, due to improper transportation and handling or outright rejection by buyers. Another 2-5 percent of all food products are lost because buyers reject shipments due to cosmetic imperfections, surplus, or other issues. At the downtown LA Wholesale Produce Market, our Food Forward team works to circumvent these losses by identifying these rejected shipments and pairing them with one of our regional hunger-relief agencies.

The food that has made it past all of these stages is ready to be sold in a supermarket—but 10 percent of it, or 43 billion pounds, will never make it off the shelf. For produce, about 12 percent of fruit and 11.5 percent of vegetables are never sold after making it to the grocery store.

 

Food Forward’s Wholesale Recovery Program rescues fresh fruits and vegetables bound for the trash.

What can we do?

There are many losses and inefficiencies throughout the production chain, and it can feel daunting to figure out how to have an impact on such a huge system. However, it turns out that individual consumers are responsible for the most food waste compared to all other actors in our food system. Consumers waste about 21 percent of all food produced, a total of 90 billion pounds in 2010. Not only is this a huge amount of food, but the resource footprint of food wasted at this late stage is much greater, due to inputs from growing, transporting, and storing the food. One study estimated that food wasted at the consumer stage carried eight times the energy waste of food wasted on the farm. So while there is a lot of food wasted before we even see it, we can make a huge difference by simply changing how we buy, store, and use food.

We can also be creative in how we approach the issue of food waste. At Food Forward, we are redirecting fresh fruits and vegetables from the landfill to people. Other organizations work to increase composting in their communities. There are many examples of products made from food headed for the trash.

40% is a big number, and the ramifications of that amount of food waste are clear. But within this issue of food waste there is so much possibility, so many opportunities to do more and be better. We can feed people, create closed loop systems, and bring communities together. We hope you’ll join us!

 

One use for food that doesn’t make it to the store? Free distribution to community members, like this
assortment of fruits and vegetables that went home with families in Inglewood. 

Resources:
https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/wasted-2017-report.pdf
https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/united-states-2030-food-loss-and-waste-reduction-goal#measure

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