This past weekend I volunteered with a great organization I want y’all to check out (or find a similar one near you! So here’s how it started. As you may or may not know, I have an orange and a lemon tree in my backyard (the best.thing.ever!)
Above two photographs by Mary Costa Photography
C’mon, does it get better than that? I think not. Anyways, so the fruit trees bloom a lot and produce fruit nearly year round. This means I have an overabundance of fruit in my backyard for much of the year. I’ve pawned lemons and oranges off on friends but it’s not always enough to keep up with the supply, and although the animals eat them (birds I tell myself, surely not rats!) I can’t help but think they’d be put to better use if eaten by people. So I did a little research and came across this article in the LA Times. From the article, published in April of last year, “Food Foward…has already collected and distributed 8.6 million pounds of fresh produce.”
From their site:
“We convene at private properties, public spaces, and farmers and wholesale markets to recover excess fruits and vegetables, donating 100% to local direct-service agencies who feed our community’s most vulnerable.”
So I thought, great! Donation time! But I wanted to see if there was more I could do. So I signed up to volunteer. You guys, it’s so stupid easy I can’t believe I hadn’t done it sooner. You go to a farmers market (after signing up for a “glean” as they’re called online). You meet with the glean leader, grab aprons, and hand out boxes to vendors that have produce to donate.
You wait about 20 minutes (and maybe do some shopping a la above), then go pick up the boxes and someone from a vendor partner picks up the boxes. It’s about an hour and a half, total. You put together some boxes, keep track of the weight of all the produce (so the vendors can get the tax deduction they deserve!) then you hand it off.
That’s it. I’m sure for different markets there are different protocols, but at the Burbank market it was super easy and the vendors already have a relationship with Food Forward. Easy peasy.
There are a ton of ways to volunteer with Food Forward, and I encourage you to check them all out. I will be signing up again in the near future to help out in this easiest of ways; and I see those lemons & oranges coming in, and can’t wait to glean the trees and donate those, too. Here we come, harvest season!
Do you guys volunteer for any causes? Any food related ones that deserve highlighting? Tell me about them in the comments below!