I have been involved in food recovery since my eighth grade year. My friend Jackson Selby came to me with the idea that he and his family (Mr. Selby, Mrs. Selby, and Zach) had of picking backyard fruit and donating it to food banks. The idea was simple: go to a homeowner’s house with a fruit tree, pick what they were not going to be able to use and donate it to a food bank to help those in need. Since we were a small, high school run organization, we had to go from door to door to spread the word of our mission. It slowly began to grow and we had a strong presence in Arcadia and Monrovia. As time went on, more and more picks were scheduled with fewer volunteers so we had to double up on the weekends and were forced to pick twice as often. Another obstacle came when Zach Selby (Jackson’s brother) and my brother graduated leaving half of the workforce left to pick up the slack. My junior year most weekends were completely full of picks and it was overbearing. Also, looking forward, Jackson and I were going to graduate in two years leaving the organization without any sustainable group of volunteers. Fortunately, at one of the street fairs, we met a lady from Food Forward that was interested in expanding into our area. We were her answer, and she was our hope to continue the work that we had started. Interestingly, Food Forward began at around the same time that we did, unbeknownst to us with the same exact mission. That summer I got myself involved with Food Forward by taking a short two week internship with them to familiarize myself with their protocol as well as give them our database of information. It was a perfect situation for us, and could not have come at a better time. We have since integrated ourselves with Food Forward. This summer I will be working on the forefront of the Backyard Harvest program in the East San Gabriel Valley. Since we do not have much presence there it will be a difficult endeavor, but nothing that I nor the staff haven’t seen before. This is exciting for me because I can continue the work I did in high school when I come back from college during summer. Urban hunger plagues Los Angeles and it is good to see the positive impact Food Forward is having, as well as personally being able to lead the expansion into the East San Gabriel Valley.
I will be working closely with Rachael Maysels and Lillian Krovoza this summer to accomplish my goals. A little bit about them:
Rachael is our Backyard Harvest Manager. She has had a lot of experience with L.A.’s farmers’ markets and participated in WWOOFing while studying farming techniques and implications. She grew up in upstate New York around farms and orchards giving her a connection to food from an early age. She has since joined Food Forward and has become a huge asset to the team and the cause in general.
Lillian Krovoza is a recent Occidental graduate!!! Congrats to her! She resides with other students in Eagle Rock (close to Occidental) and has been working with Food Forward for over a year. Her specialty is in the Central LA, East LA, West San Gabriel Valley, and North East LA areas. She plans on remaining with the organization for another month before embarking on her life’s journey.