With 128 farmers markets held on a weekly basis across Los Angeles County, Food Forward’s Farmers Market Recovery Program, now operating at Alhambra, Brentwood, Burbank, Calabasas, Culver City, Hollywood, Larchmont, Mar Vista, Pacific Palisades, Pasadena, Santa Monica (Wednesdays, Sundays), Studio City, Thousand Oaks, Torrance (Tuesdays and Saturdays), Ventura (downtown), and West Hollywood markets, offers a market-endorsed donation system for farmers wanting to help fight hunger with their unsold produce.
How does it work?
Started in August 2012, the program couldn’t be simpler: our volunteer Glean Team distributes empty boxes to the farmers and then collects the filled boxes of unsold fresh produce. The volunteers weigh the donations and, immediately upon collection, distribute them to local hunger-relief agencies (all 501.c.3 non-profits). The receiving agencies pick up on-site and pass the donations on to their clients within 1 to 3 days. The farmers receive a tax deduction for their donation and local non-profits receive fresh free produce for the people they serve.
Because of the Food Forward Farmers Market Recovery Program, these agencies now receive hundreds of pounds of free A+ grade produce on a weekly basis through this program. Our current recipients range from those living on skid row, to gay & lesbian low-income elders, to the mentally ill, to food-insecure families and children in emergency housing programs.
Prior to Food Forward’s arrival, donations were ad hoc at best or, in most cases, produce ended up in the trash. We have forged relationships with farmers, market managers, and our amazing volunteer Glean Team — all working in concert to get 100% of the gleaned produce to the hungry.
How can you get involved?
If you want to volunteer with the Glean Team, email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our events page and sign up for a market glean near you! If you want to become a Glean Team Leader, the volunteer who oversees the gleans at the market, email Leah or Sarah at email@example.com.
If you are a market manager and want your market to be considered for this program, contact the Farmers Market Recovery Program Manager, Leah Boyer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are from a food pantry or hunger-relief agency and are interested in receiving produce, please fill out this survey. This will give us the information we need to best place you at a market. We are especially looking for agencies in the San Gabriel Valley area and for the Pacific Palisades Farmers Market right now. If we can’t place you right away, please know that we are expanding to new markets each year and always have room for back-up agencies! For more information, email Leah.
If you are a homeowner and want to donate your home-picked fruit or veggies, email Leah or Sarah at email@example.com to coordinate a drop-off with one of our Glean Teams at a farmers market.
If you are a farmer or a vendor and would like to get your tax receipt, send us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 818-764-1022, ext. 6#.
“On behalf of the Studio City Farmers Market, I just want to add that the Food Forward Farmers Market Program is seamless. Once we introduced the program to the farmers the volunteers took over and there have never been any issues. The volunteers do all the work, they are professional and courteous and quick. It is truly a program that benefits many, including the farmers, who are happy to get their receipts for the tax write-off.”
— Esther Walker, Executive Director, Studio City Farmers Market
“Food Forward has worked with the Torrance Certified Farmers’ Market as a valuable partner in providing healthy produce to charitable organizations in the community. At the end of the market day, Food Forward collects leftover produce from the TCFM farmers and distributes the produce to needy organizations in Torrance and throughout the South Bay. Food Forward has helped the Torrance Certified Farmers’ Market extend its reach to organizations within the community which the market would not be able to reach otherwise.”
— Joyce Chan, Torrance Farmers Market Manager