Local nonprofit recovering 800,000 lbs. of produce weekly, redistributing to families in need amid COVID-19 pandemic

Through Food Forward's work, the equivalent of 7,200 cars were taken off the road last year, plus their efforts help the planet by stopping food waste from piling-up at landfills.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Earth Day 2020: SoCal org rescuing 800,000 lbs. 'perfect produce' weekly to feed local families
FOOD FORWARD: Local company rescues millions of pounds of produce, then redistributes it to get food into the homes of those in need, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BELL, Calif. (KABC) -- With so many closures and job cuts at restaurants, hotels and other businesses, farmers are finding fewer buyers for their crops. And that's even amid spikes in food sales at grocery stores during this coronavirus pandemic.

ABC7 spoke to Rick Nahmias with Food Forward via Skype Wednesday to talk about Food Forward, a nonprofit organization that has spent years recovering surplus produce so it doesn't end up wasted or in landfills and gets the food to local families in need.

With this crisis, how much produce is your team now rescuing?

"Well, to give you an idea before the crisis started "Produce Pit Stop," which is a warehouse where I'm at right now, was moving about 500-550,000 thousand pounds of produce a week. It is now moving over 800,000 pounds a week. It is kind of a crazy story of recovering produce from virtually every corner of the state by the pallet, and what we do is we recover it and then donate it for free to agencies that feed those in need," Nahmias said.

MORE: LA Food Bank distributes record 2 million meals to SoCal families

MILLIONS OF MEALS: Los Angeles Food is distributing and meeting the incredibly high-demand for food and meals to feed SoCal families in-need amid the coronavirus pandemic.

How do you go about recovering this food?

"Well, we've got three programs. The smaller ones are backyard harvesting from fruit trees and the farmers markets. We used to be at 25 markets, that's scaled back a bit right now, but the big one and where I'm at right now is our wholesale program, which is taking pallets of produce from growers, distributors, wholesalers all down by the produce terminal and through the state. And, they land here for a few hours and then, get jetted off to where their tenure users are. So, basically the wholesale program is recovering produce at a ridiculous scale. Basically the pallets behind me are about 1,000-1,500 pounds. We're recovering about 200 of those a day right now. And this is perfectly good produce, you know, brand new, perfect stuff," Nahmias said.

If more food finds its way to landfills instead of on our plates, could that hurt our planet?

"Well, if you look at the Earth Day equation on this since that's what it is today, last year, Food Forward took the equivalent of 7,200 cars off the road with the work we do, as far as offsetting carbon emissions. So it's an amazing win-win. You've got this great, you know, hunger equation feeding people healthy food, and on the other side, you're helping the planet by not putting it into a landfill," Nahmias said.

To support or learn more: foodforward.org

MORE: List of Los Angeles, Southern California food banks, pantries during coronavirus crisis