Our Story

OUR STORY

Since 2009, we’ve been on a mission to reduce food waste and increase access to healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables. See some of our milestones along the way.

Timeline

2009
January 17

The first harvest takes place on January 17

Group of volunteers at Food Forward's first fruit pick
With only a couple of volunteers and a single backyard, Rick Nahmias leads the first “pick” and harvests 800+ pounds of oranges and tangerines. 100% of this fruit is donated to SOVA’s food pantry just miles away from where the fresh citrus was picked.
December 15

We serve 5 hunger relief agencies

We serve 5 hunger relief agencies

Tangerines, navel and valencia oranges, pomegranates, tomatoes, lemons, persimmons, and grapefruit are harvested and donated to hunger relief agencies throughout 2009.

December 31

We end the year in a big way!

We end the year in a big way!
2010
September 7

Food Forward donates 1 million servings

Food Forward donates 1 million servings

Food Foward volunteers hit a major milestone and pick 250,000 pounds of fresh produce—the equivalent of 1,000,000 servings for our neighbors in need.

December 31

We buy our first vehicle

We buy our first vehicle

A cargo van, The Fruitmobile, is the first of our fruit fleet! The purchase of the vehicle is made possible by a matching grant challenge from the Plum Foundation.

2011
April 1

Food Forward hosts our first grilled cheese gala

Food Forward hosts our first grilled cheese gala

The fundraising event that will eventually be known as the Spring Melt is held at Clementine Bakery and features an array of grilled cheese sandwiches created by Annie Miler. We raise $6,450!

July 5

Food Forward opens our Ventura County branch

Food Forward opens our Ventura County branch

Former volunteers Martha Penhall and Ryan Glatt head up the new VC Branch in Moorpark!

July 16

Food Forward is a nonprofit

Food Forward is a nonprofit

Food Forward is officially granted 501(c)(3) status.

2012
July 7

We recover our millionth pound of produce

We recover our millionth pound of produce

And our first ever commemorative bandana is created to mark the occasion!

August 15

We launch the Farmers Market Recovery Program

We launch the Farmers Market Recovery Program

We begin by collecting surplus produce at three markets: Hollywood, Studio City, and Santa Monica Wednesday. The first glean takes place at the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market and we collect 1,313 pounds on that first day!

2013
March 26

Food Forward launches the Can It! Academy

Food Forward launches the Can It! Academy

A 12-week food preservation and cottage arts certificate program taught by Chef Ernest Miller is offered in the spring and fall at Gourmandise School of Sweets & Savories.

April 17

At the CSUN orange grove, we hold our largest volunteer event ever

At the CSUN orange grove, we hold our largest volunteer event ever

400 volunteers harvest 20,000 pounds of oranges from the historic orange grove at Cal State University Northridge.

2014
February 1

We launch the Wholesale Produce Recovery Program

We launch the Wholesale Produce Recovery Program

Food Forward begins regular produce recovery from the Wholesale Produce Market in Downtown Los Angeles and, using borrowed vehicles, recovers over 3 million pounds of fruits and vegetables in 8 months.

July 31

We buy a 24′ truck!

We buy a 24′ truck!

A successful crowdfunding campaign helps us raise $45,000 for our own vehicle to recover fruits and vegetables from the Wholesale Produce Market. See the video here.

November 8

We launch our thirteenth weekly Farmers Market glean

We launch our thirteenth weekly Farmers Market glean

The Farmers Market Recovery Program starts collection at market number 13, the Calabasas Farmers Market, with cumulative produce recovery of over 500,000 lbs.

2015
April 22

We partner with Smog City Brewing Co.

A label of Kumquat Saison, that denotes the bottling date and alcohol percentage.

The Torrance-based brewery releases Kumquat Saison—a tart beer that benefits Food Forward’s food recovery work, and is created with kumquats harvested by our volunteers.

December 31

We win our first U.S. EPA Food Recovery Challenge award

Edible tomatoes and cucumbers are being wasted in a dumpster.

Food Forward is named a regional winner for wasted food prevention.

2016
February 1

We pilot the kNOw Waste Youth Education Program

Poster made by a student that says "Don't Waste, Eat and Taste" and shows a hand holding an apple.

An interdisciplinary, standards-aligned program that encourages 5th graders to reduce waste and address food insecurity is launched in four LAUSD fifth grade classes.

December 1

Food Forward produce feeds over 1.25 million people across eight counties

A group of smiling young children hold up bags overflowing with greens donated by Food Forward.

Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Riverside, and Imperial counties receive recovered produce from Food Forward’s programs.

December 31

Volunteers give 21,000 hours of service

A large group of Backyard Harvest volunteers throw oranges in the air next to a long row of stacked Food Forward boxes.

9,000 volunteer shifts are filled at backyard fruit picks and farmers market recovery events in 2016.

2017
June 12

Food Forward partners with the Watts Labor Community Action Committee to launch our Produce Pick-Up Program

Food Forward partners with the Watts Labor Community Action Committee to launch our Produce Pick-Up Program

An innovative partnership model supplies produce recovered by the Wholesale Recovery Program to the South Los Angeles community through a market-style distribution. The distributions happen twice a month and generally provide 12,000-15,000 pounds of fresh, free fruits and vegetables to community members and local hunger relief agencies.

December 31

We collect 200+ varieties of fruits and vegetables

A farmers market vendor hands a Food Forward volunteer a box filled with various vegetables.

Through our three programs, we recover over 200 varieties of fruits and vegetables for our partner agencies.

2018
February 23

Food Forward recovers and donates 50 million pounds

Food Forward recovers and donates 50 million pounds

A ceremony at Franklin Canyon in Beverly Hills marks the occasion.

December 1

Food Forward produce reaches 1,800 hunger relief agencies

Five young children wave and hold up different fruits and vegetables at a Food Forward produce distribution.

Now, 1,800 partner agencies across Southern California receive Food Forward recovered produce.

2019
January 17

Food Forward turns 10!

An illustration of the proposed Produce Depot depicts trucks lined up at a Warehouse loading dock while a Food Forward driver operates a forklift.

We mark the anniversary by signing the lease for our Produce Depot near DTLA. This new warehouse space will enable Food Forward to recover and donate 40 million pounds of produce each year, doubling its current produce recovery efforts. The 6,000 square foot Produce Depot will expand our capacity with refrigeration, dry storage, workspace for staff, a new software system to track produce, food recovery equipment, and two new box trucks

April 15

We win our 4th EPA Food Recovery Challenge Award

A volunteer hands a community member a bag of free produce at an outdoor Produce Pick-Up event.

Food Forward is the first nonprofit in the U.S. to win four consecutive Food Recovery Challenge Awards from the EPA. We are recognized in the ‘Innovation’ category for the growth of our Produce Pick-Up program, which is now serving three sites in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

December 31

‘Faces of Food Forward’ highlights 10 amazing individuals

A staff member smiles in front of a wall of graffiti art.

To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we work with local filmmakers Serena Creative to create a series of short videos and accompanying photos, each featuring one individual who has made Food Forward’s work possible over the past decade. You can watch the stories here.

2020
April 1

In response to COVID-19, we launch an emergency expansion initiative

Food Forward staff load a pallet stacked with boxes of produce onto a forklift.

With food insecurity rates rising and more food going to waste on farms, we work quickly to expand our Wholesale Produce Recovery program. This includes doubling the Produce Pit Stop warehouse footprint to include “The Sprout,” securing new equipment and loading dock space, hiring five new food rescue positions, and redeploying staff. The expansion allows us to distribute an average of 1 million pounds of produce each week for the last six months of 2020.

September 30

Our Volunteer Leaders recover produce at 185 events per month

Our Volunteer Leaders recover produce at 185 events per month

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, our Backyard Harvest and Farmers Market Recovery programs both have an incredible year of recovery. After a brief hiatus, our trained volunteers resume harvests and gleans with increased safety protocols, recovering produce at an average of 185 events per month.

December 31

We provide produce to 160 new community partners

We provide produce to 160 new community partners

Over 160 new partners receive free surplus fruits and vegetables from Food Forward in 2020, many of whom started food programs in response to the pandemic. We also launch new food hub distributions, providing a truckload of produce on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to 8-20 community partners, at a total of 12 sites in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

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