There is an article published in the LA Times around the time Food Forward first began where the founder, Rick Nahmais, said, “This is like ‘The Little Engine That Could… To my great pleasure and astonishment, this has taken off.” Taken off was an understatement to the wide-reaching impacts of Food Forward today. I still remember back when we first joined Food Forward in 2011, they were excited to hit their milestone mark of 200,000 pounds of fruit. There was a celebration commemorating the feat that we had then surpassed. In fact, we shattered expectations and branded our name in the Southern California urban hunger fight. With the inclusion of the Farmers’ Market Recovery Programs and last year’s Wholesale Recovery Program, our influence and presence in Southern California has grown exponentially and today we hit our latest milestone: 10 million pounds of fruit! It began as a weekend activity and has grown into a multi-faceted organization that caters to over 100 food banks that serves about 100,000 people in need every month.
Looking back on my own involvement with Food Forward, I realize I found a deep sense of self. Growing up an Angelino in the city of dreams I have always felt a strong connection to the city, the mixture of cultures, and the undisputed best weather in the world. It can be easy to be lost in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood but there is a whole side of Los Angeles that doesn’t get enough attention: it’s the undernourished homeless and needy who suffer from urban hunger. Seeing this first hand on Skid Row or in the greater Los Angeles can be eye-opening. Los Angeles suffers from the last remaining Skid Row and one of the largest homeless population in the United States. Witnessing this poverty and need in my hometown city, I feel a personal obligation to help out in any way that I can. I am so happy to be a part of an organization that stands not for personal gain, but for community betterment.
Celebrating our 10 million pound victory is less about what we have accomplished but more on how many lives we have impacted. Although the organization itself has changed so much over the last six years, the mission from the very first pick until today has remained constant: connect those in need with the abundance of fruit in our area. As we cheered today and spoke about what it meant to us to reach this goal, it was a figurative toast to all of those who were involved helping us reach this goal. The Los Angeles community made this possibility a reality, so to them we say “Cheers!”