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

Backyard Harvest Pick Leader

Who: Pick Leaders are trained volunteers who lead fruit harvesting events, small and large, all across Southern California. 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!

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.

Why: We often have more fruit-filled properties across LA and Ventura counties than we are able to harvest. Without more Pick Leaders, that fruit will go to waste! A Pick Leader and 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.

What: Pick Leaders can choose to harvest trees by themselves or lead groups of volunteers in harvesting fruit. 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), meet up with any other participating volunteers and help them get started, and harvest as much fruit as possible!

You will need to lift boxes weighing up to 40 pounds, and you’ll need reliable access to a vehicle to transport harvesting equipment. Food Forward provides liability insurance for the event and takes care of recruiting and coordinating all volunteers.

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. Of course, if you’d like to volunteer more, we’d be thrilled. Harvest events take 3-4 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!

How: Depending on your availability, it takes about 2-3 months to complete your Pick Leader training. Here are the steps you’ll need to take:

  • Volunteer at two Backyard Harvest events.
  • Complete our short & simple Event Leader Application Form and email it to volunteer@foodforward.org, and complete a brief Background Check (we’ll cover the cost).
  • Have a brief introductory phone call with a Food Forward staff member.
  • Attend one in-person training session.
  • Shadow one of our experienced Pick Leaders at a harvest, then lead with an experienced Pick Leader shadowing you. After that, you’ll start picking on your own!
Farmers Market Glean Team Leader

Who: Glean Team Leaders (GTLs) are trained volunteers who lead teams of other volunteers at Farmers Market “gleaning” events. If you are passionate about fighting hunger & food waste in your own community, are detail-oriented, and enjoy working in small teams, you will love being a Glean Team Leader!

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.

Why: We rely on our Glean Team Leaders to donate thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables every month from our 25 weekly Farmers Market Recovery events. A GTL and the volunteers will recover and donate over 500 pounds of food at one 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.

What: Glean Team Leaders lead small groups of volunteers at Farmers Markets across Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. You’ll meet up with the participating volunteers, 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.

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. Food Forward provides liability insurance for the event and takes care of recruiting and coordinating all volunteers.

When: You can set your own schedule based on the date and time of the market you’d like to lead at. We ask Glean Team Leaders to commit to volunteering at 6 market events over the course of a year. 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: We “glean” produce donations at 20 farmers markets in Los Angeles County and 5 markets in Ventura County. You can choose to lead at one market or multiple market locations.

How: Depending on your availability, it takes about 2-3 months to complete your Glean Team Leader training. Here are the steps you’ll need to take:

  • Volunteer at two farmers market gleans.
  • Complete our short & simple Event Leader Application Form and email it to volunteer@foodforward.org, and complete a brief Background Check (we’ll cover the cost).
  • Shadow one of our experienced Glean Team Leaders at a glean, then lead a glean with an experienced Glean Team Leader shadowing you.
  • Attend an in-office training within the first 6-9 months of leading.
  • 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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