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Earlier this month, we ventured out to California to meet up with Food Forward, pioneers in urban food recovery and distribution.  What we learned over those three days was priceless. 

We kicked off the trip at the Food Forward office where Meg and Max showed us around, shared the Food Forward story and imparted their best practices around volunteer management, grant writing, community involvement and so much more.  We then had the chance to visit a beautiful citrus farm at Orcutt Orchards in Southern California.  It was eye opening how much fresh local fruit is growing in a small area that is feeding thousands of Los Angeles’ underserved.   

Saturday rolled around and we had the great fortune of volunteering to pick fruit from a homeowner’s backyard.  We harvested over 250 lbs of lemons.  The homeowner was thrilled that we were there to help glean their tree and we were thrilled that all of the produce was going to a local food pantry.   

Our final day was spent at the beautiful Santa Monica farmer’s market.  It was a joy to meet the local farmers in the area and we recovered over 325lbs of fresh vegetables that would have otherwise been wasted or composted.  The farmers were happy to help out the community and the recovered food went directly to a food shelter in the area.   

The most important lesson learned that weekend was Collaboration.  There are many individuals that want to help distribute healthy, local fresh food to the underserved of the community but understand that it’s a job that can be done alone.  Only through the help of all members of the community, near and far, can the dream of eradicating food waste and hunger and become reality.

 A special thank you to Rick, Meg and Max of Food Forward and their volunteers who so graciously welcomed us and showed us the ropes.  We and the community of Colorado are very grateful for the knowledge you shared.