Volunteer Positions

VOLUNTEER POSITIONS

While many of our volunteers sign up for one-day activities, ongoing and leadership opportunities are available too. Become a trained Event Leader in our Farmers Market Recovery and Backyard Harvest programs, harvesting food, fighting hunger, and building community together.

Volunteer Event Leaders

Pick Leader

Who: Do you like fighting hunger & food waste in your own community, making your own volunteer schedule, and working outside? You may love being a Pick Leader! Pick Leaders are trained volunteers who harvest fruit all across Southern California. 

You must be at least 16 years old to train as a Pick Leader, and volunteers 16 – 17 years old must have a parent or legal guardian who trains and volunteers with them.

What: Pick Leaders can choose to harvest fruit trees in any of the following ways: (1) by themselves; (2) with family and/or friends; or (3) by leading harvest events that are open to volunteers from the public (which Food Forward recruits for you). Food Forward communicates with homeowners and managers of private properties, parks, farms, and orchards who are interested in donating their fruit. We’ll help you identify a property and a time that works for you to harvest. You just need to bring some equipment (which we’ll give you), register any people joining you and help them get started, and harvest as much fruit as possible!

You will need to be comfortable lifting boxes weighing 20 pounds; our full boxes can weigh about 40 pounds, but Pick Leaders may fill them halfway to reduce the weight.** You’ll also need reliable access to a vehicle to transport harvesting equipment and deliver the produce to a local hunger relief agency. Food Forward provides liability insurance for the event.

**Note that if boxes are filled halfway, Pick Leaders will need to condense them into full boxes upon arriving at the hunger relief agency.

When: Extremely flexible! You can let us know what days and times you prefer to volunteer, but we ask Pick Leaders to commit to volunteering at 6 harvest events over the course of a year or less. Of course, if you’d like to volunteer more, we’d be thrilled. Harvest events take 2-3 hours in total, including setting up before and wrapping up after.

Where: We harvest fruit (and some veggies too) all across Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, although we do have some areas with more need than others. We also occasionally harvest from neighboring counties as well. There are lots of opportunities for you to volunteer close to home, or pick a destination you’ve been wanting to visit!

Why: We often have more fruit-filled properties than we are able to harvest. Without more Pick Leaders, that fruit will go to waste! A Pick Leader and a few other volunteers will harvest hundreds of pounds of food to donate at an average harvest event.

Joining our Event Leader community also connects you with folks from all walks of life who are passionate about food access, food waste, sustainability, and the outdoors. You’ll have a regular opportunity to make a big impact, and you’ll get to meet some great people and trees along the way.

How: Depending on your availability, it takes about 3-6 weeks to complete your Pick Leader training. Here are the steps you’ll need to take:

  1. If you haven’t volunteered at a harvest with us in the last year, sign up for and attend one!
  2. Email volunteer@foodforward.org for an application.
  3. Have a brief introductory phone call with a Food Forward staff member, and sign Food Forward agreements.
  4. Complete a brief background check (we’ll cover the cost).
  5. Attend one virtual training session, and take a quiz to ensure you’re comfortable.
  6. Pick up equipment, and start harvesting! 
Glean Team Leader

Who: Do you like fighting hunger & food waste in your own community, enjoy working outside, and consider yourself detail-oriented? You may love being a Glean Team Leader! Glean Team Leaders (GTLs) are trained volunteers who collect produce at farmers market “gleaning” events. 

You must be at least 16 years old to train as a GTL, and volunteers 16 – 17 years old must have a parent or legal guardian who trains and volunteers with them. 

What: Glean Team Leaders collect produce at farmers markets across Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. At small markets, GTLs glean on their own. At larger markets, GTLs glean with 1-3 other GTLs.** GTLs are welcome to bring family and/or friends who are 12 and older to glean with them. 

GTLs distribute empty boxes to participating vendors, collect the food donations at the end of the market, weigh and record the donations, and prepare the produce for pick-up by one of Food Forward’s partner hunger relief receiving agencies.  

**Prior to COVID-19, Glean Team Leaders led small groups of volunteers at gleaning events. When it’s safe to invite volunteers to join GTLs again, Food Forward takes care of recruiting and coordinating all volunteers.

You may need to lift boxes weighing up to 40 pounds, and you’ll need a smartphone to record donations or send us a photograph of the record. If you aren’t able to lift 40 pounds, you can volunteer with someone who can—just let us know. Food Forward provides liability insurance for the event. 

When: You can set your own schedule based on the date and time of the market where you’d like to lead. We ask Glean Team Leaders to commit to volunteering at 6 market events over the course of a year or less. Of course, if you’d like to volunteer more, we’d be thrilled. Shifts vary from 1 ½ hours – 3 hours, depending on the farmers market.

Where: You can choose to lead at one or multiple farmers market locations across Los Angeles County and/or Ventura County where Food Forward currently gleans.

Why: We rely on our Glean Team Leaders to donate thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables every month from up to 24 weekly Farmers Market Recovery events. A GTL will recover and donate 580 pounds of food at an average Farmers Market Recovery event.

Joining our Event Leader community also connects you with folks from all walks of life who are passionate about food access, food waste, sustainability, and agriculture. You’ll have a regular opportunity to make a big impact, and you’ll get to know local farmers and local produce in a whole new way.

How: Depending on your availability, it takes about 1-2 months to complete your Glean Team Leader training. Here are the steps you’ll need to take:

  1. Join a glean at one of our farmers markets to make sure you love it.
  2. Email volunteer@foodforward.org for an application.
  3. Have a brief introductory phone call with a Food Forward staff member, and sign Food Forward agreements.
  4. Complete a brief background check (we’ll cover the cost).
  5. Attend a virtual training.
  6. Shadow one of our staff members or experienced Glean Team Leaders at a glean, then lead a glean with them shadowing you.
  7. Begin leading events on your own!

A Food Forward Pick Leader holds up a grapefruit

“[Food Forward’s work] is the perfect combination of everything I wanted to do: give back to the community, help with food waste, and be outdoors.” – Stephanie

Other volunteer positions

Los Angeles Farmers Market Recovery Driver

Position Overview: The Farmers Market Recovery Program Volunteer Driver is responsible for restocking our storages for market gleans, transporting produce to hunger relief agencies that do not have the capacity to pick-up, and delivering necessary gleaning equipment to volunteers. The Volunteer Driver is required to have a clean driving record and be able to comfortably lift boxes of produce weighing 40-50 pounds each, frequently in large numbers. A driver with their own vehicle is preferred, but the option to use a transit vehicle which is located in North Hollywood is available.

The Volunteer Driver responsibilities are as follows:

(+) Picking up full boxes of gleaned produce from farmers markets and transporting them to hunger relief agencies (i.e. food pantries/banks, senior centers, homeless shelters) located within a 1-10 mile radius
(+) Restocking different market storages (most are on-site at the market) with boxes and any other necessary gleaning materials (markers, aprons, etc)
(+) Dropping off necessary gleaning equipment to volunteer event leaders including boxes, keys to storage, etc

Hours: ~30-90 minutes, 1-4 times per month as needed. Availability on Saturdays and Sundays a plus, but weekdays are also helpful.

Compensation: This position is an unpaid volunteer position

Drivers are needed in the following communities: San Fernando Valley, South Bay, San Gabriel Valley, Westside

APPLY: Let us know you’re interested by filling out our Driver Interest Form online.

“It has been a great way to get to know this area and connect with the community…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.” – Annette

A volunteer stands over a stack of boxes full of fruit

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