Food Forward

Rick Nahmias, Food Forward
In 2.5 years we have become Southern California’s largest backyard harvesting for the hungry NPO. We organize corps of between 3 and 300 volunteers or harvest excess food from private homes and public spaces, donating 100% to the hungry. We are up and running and beginning to replicate the program in other areas (Ventura County just north of LA is home to our first “branch.”) We have integrated mission-driven social enterprise components into our work which made up over 15% of our annual income this year: including a tuition-based food preservation class and artisanal food product line, as well as private corporate events  – all aimed at becoming less dependent on foundation and corporate grants.  For 2012, we are strategizing a professional farmers market recovery program for some of the 85 local farmers markets, as well as a new branch in South Los Angeles, an identified food desert and deeply challenged low-income community.

How is your project positively impacting your community?  
Starting with a single tangerine tree in 2009, we have since engaged thousands of volunteers to harvest/rescue nearly 2.5 million servings of fresh free local produce (approx. 625,000 lbs) – food that those who access pantries would otherwise not receive – at all. We engage volunteers from across numerous demographics, from age 5 to 85, and call what we do not win-win but WIN to the 4th: pantries get free produce, volunteers see their immediate effect on fighting hunger, homeowners get a tax deduction and healthier trees, and the hungry get nutritious food they would otherwise have to do without. We service over 25 different receiving agencies (from large food banks to small groups like those serving meals to homebound patients with AIDS) and we operate completely through social media.  We aim to celebrate the history of and caring for the legacy of our rich (yet dwindling) agricultural heritage of what was once a half million acres of commercial citrus. Our motto: Harvest Food-Fight Hunger-Build Community takes all three components seriously as we reconnect people with people, through food already present in our every day lives and share it with our most vulnerable.

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