Food Recovery

Food Recovery Programs

Food Forward rescues fresh fruits and vegetables from backyard fruit trees, orchards, farms, farmers markets, and wholesale produce vendors, preventing this nutritious food from going to waste. With a team of dedicated staff and thousands of volunteers, Food Forward efficiently collects surplus produce where it would otherwise be wasted.

Our three food recovery programs—Backyard Harvest, Farmers Market Recovery, and Wholesale Produce Recovery—connect our community partners with fresh, free food.  At the same time, our programs fight climate change and engage our community in meaningful action.

Backyard Harvest

The Backyard Harvest program conducts volunteer-powered harvests of surplus fruit on hundreds of private properties, public parks, orchards, and farms throughout Los Angeles and Ventura counties. We harvest anything that grows in Southern California, including lots of citrus, persimmons, avocados, pomegranates, guavas, and more! The Backyard Harvest program connects nutritious, local fruit with hunger relief organizations, and provides a hands-on opportunity to prevent food waste and fight food insecurity for volunteers of all ages.

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How it works

  • Volunteers harvest surplus fruit on hundreds of private properties, public parks, orchards, and farms in LA & Ventura counties
  • We pick citrus, persimmons, avocados, pomegranates, guavas, and more! 
  • Kids and adults can participate and get a hands-on experience preventing food waste and fighting food insecurity
  • 100% of this hand-harvested fruit is donated to local hunger relief organizations
Group of volunteers after a fruit pick
Produce varieties at the Oxnard Farmers Market

Farmers Market Recovery

At weekly farmers markets across Los Angeles and Ventura counties, Food Forward’s volunteers collect donations of surplus fruits and vegetables from market vendors. The Farmers Market Recovery program prevents this quality produce from being wasted, and provides a solution to farmers who have unsold produce and want to help fight hunger. A single market can yield over 2,000 pounds of beautiful and seasonal produce that is usually organic. The Farmers Market Recovery program provides a reliable source of high-quality fruits and vegetables for hunger relief organizations to prepare meals with or distribute directly to clients. This program also provides opportunities for volunteers to prevent food waste, help feed their neighbors, and learn more about their local food system.

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How it works

  • Volunteers collect donations of unsold fruits and vegetables from market vendors, making sure it doesn’t go to waste
  • A single farmers market “glean” can yield over 2,000 pounds of seasonal, organic produce
  • Both farmers and volunteers play a role in redirecting food waste and creating a more sustainable food system
  • Hunger relief organizations have a reliable source of high-quality fruits and vegetables to prepare meals with or distribute directly to clients
A volunteer at a farmers market moves Food Forward boxes

Wholesale Produce Recovery

Everyday within the downtown Los Angeles Wholesale Produce District, thousands of pounds of perfectly edible produce are thrown away, often due to cosmetic standards or changes in demand. Food Forward’s Wholesale Produce Recovery program staff rescue fresh fruits and vegetables from wholesale vendors by the truckload to prevent this unnecessary waste. Produce from this program reaches hundreds of hunger relief organizations across Southern California, ranging from regional food banks to community-based service centers. Food Forward’s Wholesale Produce Recovery program is housed at the Produce Pit Stop in Bell, California, our warehouse hub which opened in 2019 to accommodate the program’s growth. Complete with loading docks, refrigerated and dry storage, and advanced inventory software, the Produce Pit Stop has significantly increased the amount of produce we can recover and donate to our partners. Now, with the ability to briefly store and organize fruits and vegetables in a central location, Food Forward can create mixed loads of produce with greater variety for our agency partners, enabling them to better serve their clients’ nutritional needs. 

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How it works

  • Everyday within the downtown Los Angeles Wholesale Produce District, perfectly edible produce goes to waste due to cosmetic standards or changes in demand
  • Food Forward’s Wholesale Produce Recovery program recover these fresh fruits and vegetables from wholesale vendor partners by the truckload
  • We donate 100% to hundreds of hunger relief organizations across Southern California, ranging from regional food banks to community-based service centers
  • In 2019, Food Forward opened The Produce Pit Stop, our first warehouse space, allowing us to recover and donate even more surplus produce and better serve our partners

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