GLEAN/ glēn/ verb

When people ask me, “What is Food Forward?” I usually respond, “We are Los Angeles’ largest backyard harvesting for the hungry organization. Our volunteers are invited into backyard throughout Southern California to glean excess fruit and donate the harvest to those who need it most.” More often than not people respond, “What’s gleaning?” I answer, “Good Question!”

To glean, traditionally means to harvest the excess crop on a farmer’s field or on fields that are not commercially viable for harvest. Gleaning was typically done by people who needed the excess crop to feed their families. While the traditional meaning has certainly changed, its basic principles remain much the same.

So why is gleaning important today? We live in a time when issues of hunger continuously become more apparent in our local communities. Since the most recent financial crisis began, the number of families and individuals utilizing food assistance programs has increased dramatically. It’s quite shocking to see the correlation between poor economic indicators and the growth of food assistance recipients throughout the US. The pressing times forces communities to fully utilize local resources and ensure that little goes to waste. Gleaning is a perfect remedy!

Here at Food Forward, we hold the concept of gleaning dear to our mission. Gleaning efforts are slowly working their ways into communities big and small! Groups glean food from fields, restaurants, back yards, catering companies, and essentially anything that directly leaves a “Food Footprint.”

While the economy appears to be endlessly volatile, communities are growing increasingly resilient and resourceful. Gleaning is a clear example of people building community around the limited resources they share. From one person picking a basket of tomatoes from their garden and sharing them with their neighbors, or a group of 100 people picking 10,000 pounds of oranges from local fruit trees, all gleaning efforts create a lifestyle that we at Food Forward like to call “Fruitanthropy.” Come join our gleaning community and together we can feed the hungry with Southern California’s delicious and nutritious backyard fruit! Gleaners Unite!

Volunteer Coordinator
Food Forward