A Multitude of Melons
7.10.17 – It’s July and it’s hot, which means melon season is here! Most people know about watermelons, cantaloupes, and honeydew, but there are actually dozens of other varieties found all over the world.
Melons originated in Africa and southwest Asia and gradually made their way in Europe. A recent discovery of melon seeds in Nuragic sacred walls were dated between 1350 and 1120 BC, which suggest the Nuragic civilization (of Sardinia) were the first people to cultivate melons in Europe. Today, melons are one of the most widely cultivated fruits across the world. Watermelons are especially popular on July 4th in America. In 2016, $83 million worth of watermelons were purchased on Independence day. In Japan, a pair of Yubari melons, the Cadillacs of melons, once sold for ¥2.5 million (about $22,000).
Choosing a melon can be tricky. The best indication of a melon’s ripeness is its scent. A ripe melon will have a sweet aroma. The melon should feel heavy for its size but not have any major bruising.
It’s a vine-like flowering plant. It has thick green skin (which is edible) along with a yellow, red, or orange fleshy center. Watermelons are about 90% water. When ripe, they are very sweet and juicy.
One of the most widely known melons. Their name comes from Cantalupo, which is a region near Rome where this fruit was cultivated. Cantaloupes have a rough, web-like skin and a dense, orange fleshy center. When ripe, this melon can be as sweet as candy.
This melon has unique horned skin. Horned melons have a tart interior that have a jelly-like texture somewhere between a zucchini and a cucumber. It has yellow-orange skin and a bright green interior.
This is a hybrid melon. It is a mix between a Casaba melon and a Persian melon. It is considered one of the sweetest melons. It has yellow-green skin and a pale, sweet fleshy interior.
This melon has a sweet and juicy taste although its flavor tends to be more subtle than other melons. It is a popular dessert ingredient. It has very smooth, pale skin and a green, fleshy interior.
This melon originated in the Indian subcontinent. It is called a “pare” in Indonesia. This melon has a very bitter taste (go figure) and is usually treated more like a vegetable in recipes.
This is a huge, bright yellow melon. They get their name from the brightly colored, Canary bird. It has an elongated shape with pale green or white flesh. Canary melons are primarily sweet.
Santa Claus Melon
This melon has a thick, green-striped rind. It is very sweet like a cantaloupe. This melon is actually at its peak in December so you will have to wait to try it. It would pair well with a holiday dinner.
- 1 cup chopped cantaloupe
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
- 1/4 red onion, diced
- 1/4 cup freshly torn cilantro
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/4 tsp salt
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Let sit for at least 20 minutes before serving to allow for the flavors to meld.
Frozen Watermelon-Lime Agua Fresca
- 1/2 large watermelon, seeded and cubed (about 4 cups)
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tsp freshly grated lime zest, plus extra for topping
- 3 tbsp sugar
- pinch of salt
- 4 cups ice
- lime wedges
Place the watermelon, lime juice, zest, sugar, salt and ice into a blender. Blend until mixture is a slushy consistency. Taste for sugar and add more if desired. Pour into glasses and top with lime wedges and extra zest. Enjoy immediately!
Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta and Mint
- 16 ounces seedless watermelon, cubed
- 2 Roma tomatoes, hulled and quartered
- 1/2 cucumber, seeded and chopped
- 2 tbsp sliced shallots
- 1/2 Serrano chile (omit if you don’t like heat)
- 4 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
- 1 1/2 tbsp champagne vinegar
- 2 tbsp high quality olive oil
- salt and peper to taste
- 4 ounces fresh feta, crumbled
- 2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Cut the watermelon into cubes, reserving bite-sized pieces for garnish. Hull and quarter the tomatoes, and add them to a bowl along with the cucumber, shallots, and Serrano chile. Pour the vinegar over the vegetables and let them soak for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. This helps bring out the vegetables natural flavors
Add the marinated vegetables and the basil leaves into a food processor and pulse until well blended (the mixture should look like a finely chopped salsa). Add about 75% of the watermelon, plus the olive oil, salt, and pepper to the mixture and pulse again until completely puréed. Add the other 25% of the watermelon cubes and pulse until the soup has reached your desired consistency ( like a few small chunks of watermelon in mine). Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper if needed. Chill in the refrigeraotr for 30 to 60 minutes.
When ready to served, place the reserved watermelon cubes into four bowls and ladle the gazpacho over them. Sprinkle the crumbled feta over the soup and finish with a sprinkle of the chopped mint. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Congratulations to our Super Volunteer Student Graduate!
6.26.17 – Congratulations to our Volunteer of the Month and recent graduate! McKayla has been an awesome Ventura County volunteer – leading picks and gleans with huge crews of Pepperdine student volunteers. McKayla always brings a smile to events and is memorable for her amazing positive energy that inspires every volunteer to do their best…as well as her vibrant clothing. McKayla came to us through the Pepperdine Volunteer Center where she worked as the Hunger and Homelessness Coordinator for over two years. McKayla has now graduated from Pepperdine with a degree in Religion, and she is is off to new adventures. We hope that if McKayla makes her way back to this region, she will join us as a leader again. We wish her the best in this next chapter of her life!
So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?
This past April, I graduated from Pepperdine University (woo hoo!). My junior year, I worked at the Pepperdine Volunteer Center as the Volunteer Coordinator for Hunger and Homelessness in Ventura County. I was assigned to work with 4 local non profits to coordinate and lead volunteer opportunities for students. Food Forward was 1 of my 4 organizations. I spoke on the phone with Jim and Ally and their enthusiasm for all things fresh motivated me to get more involved in the fight against food waste.
My first volunteer day was so much more enjoyable than I imagined it would be! It was filled with laughter and true connection with the other volunteers. Volunteering is chill, productive, and fun. I find that new volunteers are always surprised at how little work it takes on our part to prevent so many pounds of lovely food from being wasted.
I attended a Glean Team Leader training and just knew that I was going to become infinitely more invested in Food Forward. Sure enough, even when my position with the Pepperdine Volunteer Center ended, I continued to grow deeper in my involvement with Food Forward, training as a Backyard Pick Leader and Community Ambassador.
What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?
It’s so simple: when you have an excess of something, you are to share it with people who do not. I love that Food Forward presents such a simple solution to the crazy-complex problem of poverty. I also love how humbling the work is. Our society loves instant gratification, but in volunteering with Food Forward, you rarely meet the folks who will be benefiting from the food you glean… and I’m all about combatting problematic societal norms. I also love the emphasis on building community and sharing, which runs quite counter to our society’s emphasis on the individual and celebration of taking and consuming.
I’ve learned the importance of being present with all people. Some of the most inspiring and alive conversations I’ve ever had have taken place under a kumquat tree or farmers market tent. Yes, we have a job to do: we have tons of fresh food to collect, but we are doing the job together in community. We mustn’t forgo community building for the sake of efficiency.
There was one moment when we were collecting the donations from a vendor at the market and as we were walking away, the vendor bestowed a huge, beautiful box of berries upon us. He said, “That way, everybody eats.” His generous and intentional spirit reminded the other volunteers and I of why we were doing what we were doing.
He said, “That way, everybody eats.” His generous and intentional spirit reminded me and the other volunteers of why we were doing what we were doing.
What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?
All the wonderfully diverse people I get to meet! I’ve befriended everyone from an art therapist to a maintenance manager. It’s so cool hearing people’s different reasons for volunteering. Getting to know such wonderful volunteers inspires me to strive to do even more good in this life.
What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
I absolutely love live music and frequent local music venues and house shows. I also love a good ocean swim or thrift store visit, and am an avid tea-drinker and veggie-eater.
Any words of wisdom you live by?
James 2: 14-17: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Cool as a Cucumber
6.21.17 – This widely known idiom meaning calm and composed may be based on the fact that in hot weather, the insides of cucumbers remain cooler than the air. Feeling thirsty during the heat wave? Grab a cucumber to help hydrate yourself because they are, in fact, 95% water!
Cucumbers are part of the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes melons, squashes and gourds. Cucumbers have three main varieties: slicing, pickling, and “burpless.
- Slicing Cucumbers are long, straight cucumbers that are the variety you are most likely to find in a supermarket. They have thin, non-bitter skin and small seeds.
- Pickling Cucumbers are shorter, plumper, and have more textured, drier skin that soaks up the pickling brine.
- “Burpless” Cucumbers are slicing cucumbers that have been bred to be less bitter and not release gas in the stomach. They are most commonly grown in greenhouses and are usually marketed as seedless.
Today, cucumbers are one of the most widely cultivated plants in the world but their origin actually traces back 4,000 years to ancient India. Around 2,000 years ago, cucumbers started to spread through the Middle East and Europe but it is the Roman Empire that truly embraced this plant. Other than eating, Romans also used cucumbers medicinally to remedy over 40 different ailments including bad eyesight, scorpion bites, and improving fertility. Emperor Tiberius (14-16 AD) famously demanded to eat a cucumber every single day of the year. In the 16th century, Europeans brought cucumbers to North America and Native American tribes quickly capitalized on the plant’s potential by integrating it into their own farming. In 2017, cucumbers are grown across the world and they are even fairly easy to grow in your own yard in Southern California’s climate.
-According to Guinness’ World Records, the heaviest cucumber ever recorded was 23 lb. 7 oz. and was grown by David Thomas in the UK in September 2015.
-Cucumbers have eye-soothing abilities. Their high water content will help hydrate skin while the cool temperature will contract blood vessels, both of which will help reduce swelling. Put a cucumber in the refrigerator for few hours to cool it down. Once cooled, cut two thick slices. Find a relaxing spot to lay back and place the cucumber slices over your eyes for 10-15 minutes.
-Cucumber can actually cure bad breath. The phytochemicals found in chemicals have the potential to kill the bacteria that cause your breath to smell. Press a slice of cucumber on your mouth for 30 seconds to test it out!
Ingredients (serves 8):
-4 ½ cups coarsely chopped, deseeded and peeled cucumbers (about 4 medium)
-4 cups cold water
-2 cups ice cubes
-1 cup sugar
-2/3 cup fresh lime juice
-2 large pinches of salt
-Additional ice cubes
- Combine cucumbers, water, 2 cup ice cubes, sugar, lime juice, and salt in blender. Blend until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth but slushy, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to pitcher. Serve with additional ice cubes
-1 hothouse or English Cucumber, sliced 1/2 inch thick and into quarters
-1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
-1/2 red onion, thinly sliced in half-rounds
-8oz feta cheese, sliced into ½-inch cubes (not crumbled)
-1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 tsp. dried oregano
-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
-1/4 cup red wide vinegar
-1 tsp. kosher salt
-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-1/2 cup good olive oil
- Place the cucumbers, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.
- For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Still whisking, slowly add the olive oil to make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta and olives and toss lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.
-4 small, firm cucumbers such as Kirby or Persian, peeled or scrubbed, sliced 1/8-inch thick
-1 tbsp. sugar
-1 ½ tsp. fine sea salt:
-1 tbsp. rice vinegar
- Slice cucumbers 1/8-inch thick using a mandoline or a sharp knife. Toss with the sugar and salt and leave in a colander to drain for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse well and drain.
- In a bowl, toss cucumbers with the vinegar, tasting and adding more as desired. Store in a container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
June 22 is Community Giving Day at your local Whole Foods
The numbers are in! Whole Foods donated $120,194.05 in sales from 5% Day, allowing Food Forward to recover an additional 1,335,500 pounds of fruits and vegetables this year.
On Thursday, June 22, Whole Foods Market stores across the LA area will donate 5% of their net sales to support Food Forward’s work in the region.
You can make a difference by shopping at any of these participating stores: Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Fairfax, Downtown Los Angeles, Glendale, Long Beach, El Segundo, Pasadena (Arroyo Parkway), East Pasadena (Foothill Blvd.), Playa Vista, Northridge/Porter Ranch, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica (23rd & Wilshire, Montana Ave., 5th & Wilshire), Sherman Oaks East, Sherman Oaks West, Silver Lake, Tarzana, Thousand Oaks, Torrance, Valencia/Santa Clarita, Venice, West Hollywood, West Los Angeles, Westwood, and Woodland Hills markets.
Better yet, swing by a DIY Harvest Drop Off at one of the 6 participating stores to donate your backyard produce! We’ll be accepting fresh, excess produce from your backyard tree or garden from 11am-2pm at the Downtown LA, East Pasadena (Foothill Blvd.), Woodland Hills, Thousand Oaks, El Segundo, and Long Beach Whole Foods Markets.
DIY Harvest FAQ
- What can I bring?
- Any fresh, uncut fruits or vegetables that you yourself would eat! Please leave any green/unripe, damaged, or broken produce at home.
- How do I bring it?
- In a bag, box, or in your hands — even one or two lemons can be a welcome delivery at a local agency! We’ll box it up for you at the drop-off.
- Where will this produce go?
- Your excess produce will be dropped off to one of our existing partners, such as a food pantry, in the immediate area of this Whole Foods Market. How’s that for acting locally?
- I don’t have a backyard to harvest from, but I’d still like to help. How can I?
- I can only reach a few pieces of fruit. Can you help me harvest the rest?
- YES! We’d love to send our volunteers to harvest your tree(s). Register your fruit tree(s) online or in-person on 6/22.
What Leadership Looks Like
6.12.17 – Food Forward’s new initiative in South LA, made possible through a partnership with Watts Labor Community Action Committee, provides a compelling example of what’s possible when the “abundance” that’s all around us gets channeled through community based leadership.
Answering a Call
This isn’t expressly a story about hunger, food insecurity, food deserts, or even poverty. It isn’t about proving the legitimacy of those problems to get people to care or to get people to do something. It’s about people who do care, who have done something, because those issues are obviously real, and are an intimate part of their everyday lives. This is a story about how those realities start to change.
It really feels like it’s happened overnight. South LA Collective and 500 plus households are already receiving produce on a weekly basis. The Watts Labor Community Action Committee receives a truckload of produce from the Wholesale Recovery Program every Wednesday and acts as the hub which distributes the produce through a network of 9 community based orgs. But WLCAC is more than just the “hub”, Sheila Thomas and her indomitable team of case workers from the Family Source Center are the hosts, orchestrators, and the driving force behind this new initiative.
“We were the ones to answer the call,” as Sheila puts it, in describing the moment the opportunity presented itself to partner with Food Forward on this initiative. And what made WLCAC the perfect collaborator? According to Luis Yepiz, Food Forward Wholesale Recovery Manager, and the one to first approach WLCAC with the opportunity, it was “the willingness to do the work.” He explains, “everybody wants to feed people. It’s warm and fuzzy, but at the end of the day it’s a lot of hard, physical work, and it’s tough to sustain. They didn’t shy away. You could tell their understanding of the need was powerful.”
Which brings up an essential piece to this picture coming together. The struggles in the daily lives of the members of their communities isn’t an abstraction to the staff of WLCAC or the other 9 orgs that have jumped at the chance to make a difference. Their understanding of the need isn’t an idea, it’s rooted in real lives, it has faces and names, and they have an emotional connection to it. So since it wasn’t an idea, they weren’t interested in coming up with the right idea to solve it. They were just looking for an action to take.
The members of Sheila’s team spend their days finding shelter for their homeless neighbors, helping victims of domestic violence take the difficult steps to move forward and start lives anew, presenting youth with avenues other than gangs, helping people navigate the immigration system, and so on. “I’ve given someone my lunch before because they didn’t know where their next meal was coming from” says Suzie, one the case managers. When she was asked how the team responded when presented with the choice to organize a weekly free farmer’s market, meaning to take up a whole new challenge, one they’d never done before, and one that was going to require effort above and beyond what they were already doing, Suzie said the choice was easy. “No one hesitated. We all love the community, and we see what it needs. And we know this builds trust, and trust is what it takes for people to let us help them move forward.”
“This really does build up the community. People want to be here, they’re working, but it’s just not enough. People need nourishment… believe me,” says Ms Martin, a retired school teacher of 45 years, who’s one of 250 people picking up two bags of produce each at the “free farmer’s market”one Wednesday. She’s taking back food for her whole household that includes her son, daughter in law, and two grandkids. Her son works for an org on Skid Row feeding homeless folks, but is bringing home just minimum wage.
By the Community, For the Community
Fifty or so people at a time wait in line, but the mood is light. WLCAC’s space is open, airy, and colorfully filled with locally created art. People laugh, chat, everyone is patient. Ten people are allowed through the “market” at a time, and are able to fill two bags full of produce each. Today they’re selecting from lovingly sorted and stocked bins of peaches, peppers, watermelon, cabbage, tomatoes, lettuce, squash, cucumbers, and onions. Vans and pickups come from the 9 other orgs to take their share back for their own distributions. There is a general air of comfort and belonging here week after week. “It’s great to see everyone coming together like this” remarks Jose, a member of the nearby Willowbrook Community Garden.
“You know, this is a throwback to the 70s when it was all the community was helping the community” Sheila comments. “I think the fact that this is by us and for us gives people a sense of hope and shows there’s more we can do.”
Food Forward works at the intersection of food waste and hunger, trying to reconcile the fact that 40% of the food produced in this country each year goes to waste, and at the same time 1 in 6 Americans face hunger. What is it going to take to connect that food “abundance” with those in need? I certainly think the passion, commitment, and leadership of Sheila and her team of Chimere, Azucena or “Suzie”, Mayra, Paulette, Danielle, Leslie, Kenneth, Marsela, Ruby, and Bonnie, provide a compelling example to follow.
As do the other members of the collective, who are helping people to grow their own food, are feeding families, seniors, homeless folks, and youth, and generally making it possible for people to sustain themselves in the communities of South LA. They are: Parents of Watts, Willowbrook Community Garden, Kid’s Castle, Grant AME Church, the Heart of Watts Garden, First to Serve, Girls Club of LA, Hale Morris-Lewis Manor, and the LA Neighborhood Land Trust’s Fremont Garden. Because it’s exactly this kind of community self-determination that we want support.
The fact that this initiative has come together virtually instantly, utilizing only available resources, should serve as a reminder of the “abundance” that’s around us right now. And the fact that it started with only 1 org and now includes 10, who all learned about the project through word of mouth, should serve as a sign of the as of yet unexhausted supply of “can do” out there. But for anyone still unmoved… well, I’ll let Sheila have the last word. When asked to give some advice to those interested in working to address hunger and food insecurity in their own communities who just haven’t taken that first step yet, she offered simply, “Stop overthinking it.”
By: Luke Ippoliti, Food Forward Agency Relation Manager, Luke@foodforward.org
A proposal that could impact our most vulnerable
6.8.17 – A proposed budget for 2018 would cut $193 billion from SNAP (aka food stamps) over the next ten years.
Following the November election, we made the explicit commitment to raise our voices when we felt it would truly count: on issues that impact our partners, allies, and our community’s most vulnerable, particularly around food security. When the news of a proposed budget for 2018 came out with a 25% cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka SNAP or food stamps), it was clearly time to speak out.
The proposed budget would cut $193 billion dollars from SNAP over the next ten years, a program that nearly one in seven people in this country depend on to put food on their table on a regular basis. Cutting this program as proposed will reduce the ability of individuals and families to meet a basic human need of access to food.
In her cogent editorial in ‘The Forward,’ MAZON CEO (and long-time Food Forward friend), Abby Leibman, points out that those impacted by the proposed cuts are “people who already must make impossible choices between life’s necessities: food, medicine and rent. They are children, seniors, people in rural communities, people with disabilities, and veterans.”
We encourage you, the Food Forward family, to take action against this proposed budget item by reaching out to your representative to speak up. You have our commitment to keep you appraised as this situation develops, but your voice is essential in letting the government know it is NOT OK to cut SNAP!
Rescued Ice Cream Flavors with Salt & Straw
6.4.17 – Food Forward is proud to have sourced backyard citrus, beet greens, and strawberries for three innovative ice cream flavors created by Salt & Straw, the sale of which will directly benefit our produce recovery work. Flavors available through June!
L-R: Salt-Cured Backyard Citrus Creamsicle, Food Forward’s Top of the Beet, Whey-Preserved Strawberries
Food Forward is thrilled to partner with small-batch ice cream purveyor, Salt & Straw, for a June Rescued Food Series!
The June flavor series was brought to life through the collaborative efforts of the Salt & Straw and Food Forward teams, bringing one-of-a-kind concoctions made from reclaimed foods. “The fact that we waste 40% of our food in the United States while there are families and children not getting the food they need is a horrific reality and something that all of us in the food industry need to focus on changing. This ice cream menu is our little soapbox to talk about this issue and start showing creative ways to combat this problem. We’re using excess ingredients around our cities in super unique ways, such as using spent grains from local breweries like Three Weavers, ugly farm vegetables, and leftover breads from local grocery stores,” said Salt & Straw head ice cream maker Tyler Malek. “More importantly, I get to work alongside non-profits like Food Forward who are making a significant change in Los Angeles. We wanted to put these incredible agencies in the spotlight, tell their story, and see if we can get our customers and the community at large to be more aware of and supportive of these organizations and the tireless work that they’re doing.”
Here in the U.S., a vast majority of the food supply that goes in the trash is made up of surplus, edible ingredients that could help reduce hunger in our most vulnerable communities. “From our very first conversation, Tyler and I clicked about creating ice cream flavors which actually tell the story of the interlocking and urgent issues Food Forward works so hard to address: eradicating food waste and feeding the hungry. We are thrilled to find such creative, generous and innovative partners with Salt + Straw and can’t wait to roll out the wasted menu!” shared Rick Nahmias, Founder & Executive Director at Food Forward.
Food Forward sourced the fruits and vegetables for three of this month’s flavors, the proceeds of which will be directly donated to our produce recovery programs.
Food Forward works with larger California farmers to reduce waste in the fields, and connected Salt & Straw with a farmer in Oxnard with a few extra pallets of extra-ripe strawberries. After trimming the stems, we soak them in surplus whey to continue breaking them down and bring out their jammiest berriness. We blend the resulting super-strawberry preserve with cream and sugar for a berry ice cream unlike any other.
Food Forward’s Top of the Beet
When many shoppers buy beets at the farmers market, they leave the tasty greens behind, so we created a flavor to showcase those lush tops! We worked with Food Forward’s Farmers Market Recovery Program to offer a drop-off point for farmers heading to the market—stopping at our kitchen to unload their greens before setting up shop for LA’s locavores. We cook down the stems into a jam with lemon and sherry vinegar, which gets added along with a crunchy sugar brittle made with the dehydrated beet leaves, into our lightly spiced salt and pepper ice cream.
Salt-Cured Backyard Citrus Creamsicle
Backyard fruit trees around Southern California are testaments to the golden age of the citrus industry—but much of the ripe fruit goes to waste, which is why Food Forward orchestrates over 750 backyard harvests every year. We sliced up a bright and juicy haul of backyard citrus—oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and limes—and leave them covered in salt for at least three days. This breaks down any bitterness and brings out a pure citrus essence, the perfect base of a sweet and salty marmalade that we fold into vanilla ice cream.
Also available as part of the series are Three Weavers’ Spent Grain with Blackberry Fig Jam and Greenbar Distillery’s Gin Spices & Tonic.
Find the flavors at LA Salt & Straw locations:
240 N. Larchmont Blvd., Los Angeles, CA – (323) 466-0485
1357 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA – (310) 310-8429
12180 ½ Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles, CA – (818) 358-2890
829 E. 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA – (213) 988-7070
8949 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA – (424) 288-4818
Getting to know her neighborhood trees
5.25.17 – Annette first came onto the Food Forward scene in December of 2016 after moving to SoCal from Oregon. In the short time she has been up a tree with us, Annette has led an incredible 43 events (that’s about 7 harvests per month!!) and harvested thousands of pounds of fresh fruit all over the San Gabriel Valley. Annette will be leading the first harvest of the season at the Huntington Gardens on June 3rd so if you’re planning on attending this most fruitastic event, don’t forget to say hello!
How did you get started with Food Forward?
I had recently moved here and wanted to volunteer in my community. I was actually having a hard time finding a good match close by until I stumbled upon Food Forward and signed up. I am a sucker for a good story, and Food Forward has a great grassroots beginning that is very inspiring. I was impressed with the amount of food rescued and the different programs developed to do this. I also liked that FF had built relationships with local food justice organizations to ensure that food was getting efficiently distributed to the folks that needed it.
I signed up for a backyard harvest and I was very excited to pick citrus fruit because I had never done it before. I was greeted by a very nice couple, who told me about all about Food Forward and the backyard harvest program. It turned out I was speaking to Gunther, the harvest coordinator for SGV, and his wife. Before I could fill my first box with fruit Gunther had me signed up for the next pick leader training.
What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?
I volunteer with the backyard harvest program and do most of my picks in the San Gabriel Valley. It has been a great way to get to know this area and connect with the community. I love to forage and glean and so being outside picking fruit is probably my favorite part.
I’ve learned more about the local fruit trees and their growing seasons, which has helped me to gain a greater appreciation of where I live. The number of pickers and frequency of their volunteer hours is heartening. There are many people who care about the community and are willing to donate their time and resources. I believe that the tangibility of picking fruit—people actually having it in their hands—confirms and strengthens the mission of Food Forward.
I’ve learned more about the local fruit trees and their growing seasons, which has helped me to gain a greater appreciation of where I live.
Is there a particularly powerful volunteering moment you’d like to share?
There have been many moments but the most powerful ones are discovering the homeowner’s personal connection to the Food Forward mission. The stories often begin with the fruit trees and then threads through a historical perspective of their neighborhoods and personal journeys to arrive at opening their homes to enthusiastic fruit pickers.
What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
In my new home of Pasadena, I spend time in my garden, hanging out with my chickens, and exploring the mountains nearby. The flora and fauna of the Angeles National Forest are beautiful! I still have community roots in both Alaska and Oregon where I spend time part of the year. In Alaska, I work for a kayak guiding company where I lead trips through the Tongass National Forest. In Oregon, I help organize community events for a non-profit river advocacy organization.
Any words of wisdom you live by?
Be kind. Be open. Listen well. Look often for the invisible.
Stamp Out Hunger in the San Fernando Valley
5.3.17 – If your Stamp Out Hunger bag hasn’t arrived in the mail yet, you may not have remembered that it’s just around the corner! This year’s food drive will be on May 13th, and we hope that you can help us Stamp Out Hunger in the San Fernando Valley and across Southern California.
What is Stamp Out Hunger?
Stamp Out Hunger is an annual food drive run by the National Association of Letter Carriers. It takes place on the second Saturday of May, when postal workers collect non-perishable food items from people in 10,000 cities and towns across the United States, and deliver it to nearby food banks and pantries.
You may have seen the familiar Stamp Out Hunger bags, which NALC delivers to residences in the week leading up to the event, but the fact is that postal service employees will collect donations of food in any bag (or even a box!). Each post office partners with a local food bank or pantry to deliver the food collected locally.
How Did Stamp Out Hunger Get Started?
Stamp Out Hunger has collected over 1 billion pounds since it started over 25 years ago, in 1991. It is an AMAZING example of collaboration between labor unions, government, and the nonprofit sector. The first Stamp Out Hunger drive came out of a discussion between leaders representing the United States Postal Service, the National Association of Letter Carriers (the union of USPS employees), and the AFL-CIO (the federal organization of labor unions), who piloted a drive in 10 cities across the US.
Though the first drive took place in October, nonprofit leaders convinced the NALC to move it to late spring, when holiday period donations tend to run out and leave food banks and pantries in need of extra sources of food for clients. The first spring-time Stamp Out Hunger drive, in May of 1993, set a record for the greatest amount of food ever collected in one day in the United States.
How can you participate?
You can donate by placing non-perishable food items in a container and leaving it by your mailbox on Saturday, May 13th, before your regular USPS delivery and pick-up time (they suggest having all food out by 9 am to be safe). AND, if you want to volunteer that Saturday, we’d love to have you join us! We’ll be at the Van Nuys Post Office, sorting and boxing donations of food that will all be delivered to MEND Poverty in Pacoima.
What happens to the food?
Each Post Office that participates in Stamp Out Hunger works with a local food bank or pantry that is able to accept the donations of non-perishables and get it to folks within that community. Much of the food donated in the San Fernando Valley will go to MEND Poverty, one of our incredible partner Receiving Agencies, who provides food and an enormous range of other services to tens of thousands of clients every month.
Taking Food Waste Off the Menu
4.28.17 – Today is the first National Stop Food Waste Day! Food Forward works to fight food waste all year long and we are always eager to support initiatives that spotlight this serious issue, like Feeding the 5000 Los Angeles on May 4th, 2017.
Hosted by Feedback as part of the Los Angeles Times ‘Food Bowl’ festival, Feeding the 5000 LA will prove that while there’s no shortage of delicious food in the City of Angels, there’s plenty to do to take food waste off the menu. It is estimated 40% of food across the US is wasted. While food – and water – is thrown away in vast quantities, Los Angeles also has the largest population of food insecure people in the United States.
To spotlight the issue of food waste, and its massive climate and environmental impacts, organizations across LA are coming together on Thursday, May 4th in Pershing Square for a festival which invites thousands to a delicious meal made from top quality ingredients that would otherwise have gone to waste.
Paella made from food that would have been wasted at the Feeding the 5000 event in Washington DC
Food Forward is proud to contribute to the Feeding the 5000 meal by supplying fruits and vegetables recovered by our Wholesale Recovery Program. The Wholesale Recovery Program works out of the Downtown Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market, the second largest wholesale market in the country. With huge amounts of produce comes huge amounts of waste, and the Food Forward staff steps in, just in time, to divert fresh, healthy food to the people in our community who need it most. In 2016 alone, this program ensured 13.7 million pounds of fresh produce was donated to local hunger relief agencies across eight Southern California counties.
Also taking part in the Feeding the 5000 event are The L.A. Kitchen, who will be preparing the meal, and some of the local anti-hunger groups that Food Forward works with: Swipe Out Hunger, HALA, Downtown Women’s Center, Food Finders, PATH, LAHSA, and Skid Row Housing Trust.
This event is open to everyone! Please RSVP on the Facebook page and invite your friends!
If you are interested in volunteering with the Feeding the 5000 meal preparation, visit Feedback’s website.