Food Forward defines “fruitanthrophy” as the picking, donating, and distributing of fruit for humanitarian purposes — and that is exactly what our employees accomplished on an Honest to Goodness Saturday this October. Armed by fruit pickers and supported by ladders, our team harvested over 1700 pounds of fresh oranges for MEND, a local organization providing basic essentials for families in need.
A volunteer Los Angeles-based organization, Food Forward rescues fresh local produce that would otherwise go to waste and connects this abundance with neighboring people in need. From backyard harvesting to farmers’ market recovery, Food Forward has saved over 1.7 million pounds of food, distributed it to over 40,000 clients a month across Southern California, and helped alleviate urban hunger
To harvest the food for donation, we traveled to our pick at a family-owned orange grove (it was over 100-years old!) in Chatsworth, California. We were invited to harvest about an acre of mature orange trees, so the fruit could be turned into fresh-squeezed orange juice at a local food bank. If these oranges were not harvested soon, they would spoil and sadly end up in the trash.
Together, thirty-plus Honest employees, family, and friends climbed into the trees to collect every single orange we could grab. With the fruit pickers and ladders provided by Food Forward, we extended our reach and collected over 42 crates of oranges for the families served by MEND.
Weighing in at a total of 1700 pounds of fruit, our orange harvest was a huge success! However, the day didn’t end there. Given that we were dealing in fresh produce, we needed to deliver these oranges as soon as possible for distribution to the families in the community waiting for them.
MEND exists as an organization to “Meet Every Need with Dignity.” Its mission is to break the bonds of poverty by providing basic human needs and a pathway to self-reliance. With everything from a food bank and clothing center to medical and dental clinics to skills training and job placement assistance, MEND is 99% volunteer driven and provides all services free of charge to those seeking help.
Our oranges were a donation towards their hot meal and food box distribution programs. They would be squeezed into fresh juice and made available to the 42,000-plus people served on a monthly basis (over 70% of which are women and children). This access to fresh fruit is extremely important for most food banks today, as food bank administrators are often faced with the dilemma of whether to accept sugary, non-nutritious foods so that they can serve a greater number of people or whether they should refuse these donations to advance health initiatives but in turn have to deny hungry people who come to their centers for help. Learn more about this dilemma here.
Upon delivery, our 42 boxes of oranges were wheeled into the MEND Food Department, weighed on an industrial scale, and inspected for freshness. They passed the inspection! Next stop, the MEND system for inclusion in the daily food preparations. These donated oranges would provide a significant amount of nutrient-packed juice for the families being served. With nearly four million Californians being reported as food insecure, these community-harvested oranges—while not enough to reach everyone in need—are an important step in the right direction in connecting free, nutritious food with organizations working to solve the hunger problem.
Final Food for Thought
Fruitanthropy is fun and impactful. With access to willing volunteers and to food that would otherwise go to waste (which is very common in our Californian climate!), you can bring fresh nutrition to hundreds of families in need at a nearly no cost. The concept is very simple, but effective and proves that you can make a difference in less than one day. We’re proud to support the great work of Food Forward and MEND and can’t wait to work together again.
What national or local food banks do you support?