Since its founding in 2009, Food Forward has engaged thousands of volunteers (who donated over 18,500 hours of service) in nearly 900 harvests, recovered a cumulative 1.37 million pounds (or 6.5 million servings) of fresh produce from public and private land, wholesale markets and farmers markets, and distributed it to over 50+ hunger relief and social service agencies in the greater Los Angeles region. In August 2012 we created the highly impactful Farmers Market Recovery program that is currently operating in five of LA's most robust Farmers Markets and has collected 83,535 lbs, engaged 195 farmers as donors and 414 Angelenos as volunteers in less than one year.
We are proud to say that our work has received considerable recognition. Executive Director Rick Nahmias was winner of the LA Social Venture Partners Fast Pitch Audience Award and Impact/Innovation Award in 2010; a speaker at 2011 TEDx Los Angeles at USC; recently selected as a "New Food Hero" of 2012 by Vegetarian Times Magazine and Ecocentric Blog; and in 2012 was chosen as one of two Southern California delegates to Slow Food’s bi-annual Terra Madre in Torino Italy. In 2011, Food Forward was also the youngest recipient of a Carl and Roberta Deutsch Foundation Halo Award for fostering outstanding volunteerism. Our accomplishments are also receiving increasing attention from dozens of media outlets including the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, GOOD, KCRW, KPCC, KPFC, LA Daily News, and NPR's Marketplace.
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1 Submitted Idea
- 2013 Grants Challenge
While there are several indicators that Food Forward’s work addresses - such as Health and Environmental Quality - we are focusing on our impact on Social Connectedness for this funding opportunity. According to the LA 2050 study, our county fares poorly on several indicators of social connectedness: Los Angeles ranks 46th among the largest 51 metro areas in volunteerism; Angelenos are less trusting of their neighbors than the nation as a whole; and fewer Angelenos expect to stay in their community for five years or more compared to the national average.
Food Forward offers solutions to these negative trends by providing over 4,000 volunteer opportunities this year, in multiple languages, and as a result connects a myriad of communities across Los Angeles County. If awarded, LA2050 funding would allow us to deepen our highly effective work in areas such as South LA and the San Gabriel Valley. In less than four years since its founding in 2009, Food Forward has established itself as the largest volunteer-powered urban gleaning program operating in California.
We implement innovative strategies that bring people together, often in neighborhoods they would otherwise have never visited, to rescue fresh and nutritious produce from local sources, produce which would otherwise go to waste, and put it in the hands of those who need it the most. Operating just in the greater Los Angeles region, over 5,000 Food Forward volunteers have recovered and donated a cumulative 1.37 million pounds (over 6.5 million servings) of fresh produce from public and private land, wholesale markets and several of our cities largest farmers markets. Our programs convert food (and environmental) waste into a sustainable supply of healthy and nutritious produce desperately needed by local communities and hunger relief programs, which in turn has a huge positive impact on the health of people in our community.
Food Forward operates almost exclusively through social media and relies solely on volunteers to carry out our produce recovery activity. This design not only allows us to operate more cost-efficiently than other hunger-relief nonprofit organizations, but it provides an ideal mechanism through which engaged community members are connected with each other, with new geographies within Los Angeles and with the rich agricultural history of the region. Through Food Forward, volunteers work shoulder to shoulder with other volunteers, nonprofit organizations, farmers, landowners, and corporations with whom they would otherwise not likely have contact. Together they are gaining a deeper understanding of how our personal involvement in the processes of growing, sourcing and distributing food can directly reduce hunger, combat food waste and re-engage with Los Angeles as a past and present agricultural landscape. Engaging in backyard harvesting or recovering produce at a local farmers market are dynamic experiences that empower community members to be actual agents of change.
Over 85% of Food Forward’s volunteer events are regularly oversubscribed and have waiting lists. Through the LA2050 program, our organization would have the opportunity to dramatically expand our key produce recovery programs by capitalizing on the large number of Angelenos who are willing and waiting to contribute their time, energy and food resources to reducing hunger in our communities. By the end of 2013, Food Forward would like to see our Farmers Market Program expand from five to nine local markets throughout Los Angeles County and bring backyard harvesting to new neighborhoods, particularly in the San Gabriel Valley where there are tremendous untapped resources such as volunteers, mature and un-harvested fruit trees and numerous farmers markets.