FORESTR'S LOCAL FOOD SECURITY STRATEGY
ForestR Feeds is the food security strategy of Forestr.org, a San Francisco East Bay nonprofit devoted to cleaning, greening, and feeding local communities. Key to our Food Security strategy are seasonal Vegetable Seedling Giveaways and Sales, a 1,500 packet (and growing) Seed Bank & Exchange, a fruit gleaning program that donated 10,000 pounds of produce to food banks in 2021, and community education on growing and sharing food. Future plans include Harvest Exchanges and Food Forest Pocket Parks.
ABOUT FORESTR GLEANS
Our gleaning program is run by experienced volunteers who harvest hundreds of pounds of excess produce each week from neighbors with fruit trees, and donate them to local food banks. This prevents food waste, while providing healthy food to struggling families. In 2020, the gleaning teams of 2-4 volunteers per harvest averaged one harvest a week and donated around 2,800 lbs of produce to food banks. In 2021, we averaged 1.5 harvests per week, and donated more than 10,000 lbs of produce to food banks. In 2022, we would like to increase our efforts by adding an additional team of gleaners. Although most of our gleaning is done by volunteers, we pay our youth gleaners a small stipend to to support the integration of Green Jobs and job training into community organizing. Please help us feed hungry families by donating to our Food Security GoFundMe.
OUR NATION AND REGION FACE A FOOD SECURITY CRISIS.
The U.S. throws away well over 100 billion pounds of food each year, wasting up to 20 percent of America’s entire food supply. At the same time, 49 million people, including more than 16 million children, are at risk of going hungry. Food insecurity doubled nationwide in April of 2020 and tripled for families with children. Here in California, 1 in 5 people — about 8 million — struggle with food insecurity. And a staggering 1.5 million Bay Area residents need food bank assistance. In the second year of the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of our neighbors exhausted their savings and suffered job loss, food insecurity, eviction, and overdue bills at previously unthinkable levels. Some East Bay food banks saw demand triple.
THE PROBLEM IS STRUCTURAL.
The food industry’s business models are built for maximizing their profits, not for ensuring everyone gets fed. U.S. food systems have systematically driven local family farms out of business in preference to corporate mega-farms that employ inefficient long range transport systems. That means, our food systems are not agile and responsive to crises, leaving us vulnerable in scenarios like those that unfolded during the pandemic: empty shelves and long lines at the grocery stores. Food deserts, child hunger, and malnourishment are persistent but avoidable problems. But the politics of profiteering resist even the most obvious and sensible solutions. We can't afford to wait for government or corporate fixes. Citizens must get involved in building sustainable alternatives.
LOCAL COMMUNITIES CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
The most reliable way to strengthen food security is for local communities to build their own resilient local and regional food systems, starting with increasing local farms and farmers markets, community gardens, home gardening, fruit and produce gleaning, seed and harvest exchanges, and community education. Area food banks need enough inputs from the local community that national supply chain disruptions do not send children to bed hungry.
HOW GLEANING MAKES A DIFFERENCE:
- Gleaning Reduces Hunger. More than 23 million Americans, including 6.5 million children, live in low-income urban and rural neighborhoods that are known “food deserts,” where affordable, quality, and nutritious foods are inaccessible. Gleaning is one way local communities can deliver fresh, clean, usable food to the dinner tables of low-income families.
- Gleaning Reduces Waste. Farms account for 21% of all food waste in the United States. Unfortunately, crops are at risk of becoming food waste if they have cosmetic issues that make them difficult to sell or if too many crops are available. Gleaners can step in to rescue wasted food from farms, farmers markets, wholesale food outlets, as well as from urban gardens and yards.
- Gleaning Strengthens Local Food Security. Gleaning builds networks between volunteers with community groups, gardeners and/or farmers, agencies that serve the hungry, and others. This builds new foundations for local community food systems. It supplies a new source of fresh, healthy produce to nonprofits who serve food to those in need, many of which have experienced severe cutbacks during the economic downturn.
- Gleaning Feeds the Soul. Donors and gleaners gain the sense of purpose that comes with making a positive impact in the community. It's a great way for the whole family to enjoy the outdoors and draw kids away from computer screens. And, aside from receiving healthy food, the receiving families can see that their community cares about them.
- Gleaning Builds Community. Because gleaning connects volunteers with community members offering and needing produce, it helps foster strong local community ties. These ties tend to grow into larger networks for resource sharing and mutual support.
- Gleaning Reduces Rodent Vectors. Excess fruit left on the ground can attract rodents and increase their numbers. Gleaning reduces rodent vectors by removing an abundant food source that can produce population surges.
YOU CAN HELP BUILD FOOD SECURITY IN THE EAST BAY
ForestR’s gleaning program is limited only by the number of produce donors and gleaners we can mobilize. ForestR is focusing its efforts on the Eden Area (Castro Valley, Hayward, San Leandro), but we hope to spur similar programs in other areas in 2022. With your help, we plan to expand all of our ForestRFeeds initiatives next year and over the next five years. We envision Gleaning Guilds, VeggiePaloozas, Seed Banks, Food Forest Pocket Parks, and an expansion of home gardens in every town in the Bay Area and beyond. We envision adding vegetable gleaning to the program -- from farmers markets, small farms, and wholesale produce recovery. And we aim to undertake food justice advocacy work to address the food desert problem in urban areas.
YOUR TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS SUPPORT:
$15 pays for a young person’s hour of gleaning through our Green Gigs job training program
$50 pays for two fruit picking poles for a new Gleaning Guild
$100 pays for a team leader's time for a week
$250 pays for our annual gas budget to travel to gleaning sites
$500 pays for a new Seed Bank in a neighboring community
$1,000 underwrites the development of a training program to create food security programs in other East Bay communities.
Donations made to this GoFundMe are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law and are processed in U.S. dollars. ForestR is a U.S. nonprofit, tax-exempt, charitable organization under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.