Every Sunday at the Channel Islands Harbor’s Farmers’ Market, hundreds of fruit and vegetables go unsold. The produce is fresh, so farmers can’t bring it back for sale due to potential quality concerns. Fortunately, the food doesn’t go to waste.
Food Forward, a non-profit organization that fights hunger and food waste by collecting surplus fruits and vegetables, collects the produce at the Harbor’s Farmers Market and donates them to local hunger relief agencies. They’ve been doing so at the Harbor for 3 years.
Food Forward Ventura Branch Associate Dominque Derse said the food collected at the Harbor’s Farmers Market is extremely important in the battle against hunger.
“Produce is an incredibly important part of everyone’s diet, and Food Forward makes sure everyone has access to fresh produce,” Derse said.
In fact, in 2019 alone, more than 23,394 pounds (or 11.6 tons) of produce was recovered at the Harbor’s market and donated to three local agencies serving individuals experiencing food insecurity: Turning Point Foundation, C Street Family Plan in Oxnard, and Restore Ventura.
Food Forward collects produce at 25 farmers markets located in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. Over the past 10 years, Food Forward has recovered and donated more than 90 million pounds of produce, and, in 2019, provided fresh, healthy food to 2 million food insecure people in Southern California.
Derse said she’s proud of the work Food Forward accomplishes, but the organization can always use extra volunteers.
“To continue collecting fresh produce from the Channel Islands Farmers Market, Food Forward is always in need of volunteers to participate,” Derse said. “There are plenty of one-day opportunities available on the Food Forward volunteer calendar and, for anyone interested in volunteering regularly, there are opportunities to train as a Glean Team Leader, the dedicated volunteers who lead Food Forward’s produce recovery events.”